The Houston Walmart Supercenter came away as the big winner for the second year in a row at the Eleventh Annual Texas County Memorial Hospital Healthcare Foundation Chili Cook Off. Held in Houston on November 4th, “Walmart Super Chili”, the superhero-themed team from Walmart, raised $7,405 to benefit TCMH Hospice of Care.
The Houston Walmart Supercenter team was one of 14 different teams that cooked chili and competed for prizes in six different categories. This year’s team fundraising effort totaled $24,335. The remainder of funds was raised through sponsorships, admission, and auctions at the event.
All of the funds raised at the Foundation event benefit TCMH Hospice of Care which provides end of life and grief support care for patients and their families in Texas County and the surrounding area.
This year’s Chili Cook Off was dedicated to the memory of the late Dr. I.C. Keeney, longtime veterinarian in Texas County.
For the past 11 years Keeney and his wife, Margaret, and their friends, John and Jeannie Beltz of Willow Springs, donated a beef purchased at the county fair to raise funds for the Chili Cook Off and Hospice of Care. Prior to the inception of the cook off, the Keeney and Beltz families purchased a beef that was donated to Hospice of Care to raise funds for the organization.
The Keeney and Beltz families were in attendance at the event.
David Keeney and Diane Pierce, children of IC and Margaret Keeney, accepted a plaque honoring Dr. Keeney. David Keeney spoke about the family’s experience with Hospice of Care.
“Hospice has a very special place in my whole family’s heart,” Keeney told the crowd. Approximately 300 were in attendance throughout the day.
Keeney explained that his grandparents received hospice care when they passed away many years earlier. At the time Keeney didn’t realize how hospice services functioned until he and his family experienced Hospice of Care in the last three days of Dr. I.C. Keeney’s life.
Keeney described leaving a hospital in Springfield with his father and returning to his parent’s home where Hospice of Care had made arrangements for a hospital bed to be placed in the sunroom of the home, the place where Dr. I.C. Keeney enjoyed spending at least half his time looking out over the farm, watching wildlife and his herd of cattle.
“Hospice facilitated getting that bed and placing it in my dad’s favorite place in their home, and in those last three days, the family gathered there with him,” Keeney said. He explained that even the cattle came up in the field “coming to see him”.
Keeney explained that the efforts of Hospice of Care helped create a family bonding experience that was not expected but “so special”.
“It’s comforting to know that hospice is available to my family when the time comes,” Keeney said. “My dad was right, for charitable causes, hospice is right up there at the top.”
Keeney’s comments kicked off the live auction portion of the event with Raymond Quick, auctioneer. Numerous businesses and individuals donated items to be auctioned, including a steer purchased by the Keeney and Beltz families at the Texas County Fair.
The cook off also featured booths from each five-member cook off team. The teams adopted a theme, a team name, and set about raising funds for their team earlier in the year through “casual days” at work, yard sales, raffles, bake sales, and other means.
The Houston Walmart Supercenter had 62 associates that volunteered to walk over 5 hours each in their free time, earning the team a $5,000 donation from the Walmart Corporation which they used to benefit Hospice of Care and to boost their team fundraising efforts.
“This event would not be possible without the incredible effort of the chili cook off teams,” Jay Gentry, TCMH Healthcare Foundation director, said.
Also receiving top prizes for fundraising efforts were “Tea Time with Team Jayson”, a Cabool-based team in memory of Jayson Gentry, which raised $4,488 to receive second place in the team fundraising category.
“Happy Feet Chili” from Raymondville United Methodist Church raised $2,733 for third place in team fundraising.
The Faretheewells, an Ellington, MO-based Americana band, played throughout the day. Twenty-five different chili recipes were available for those in attendance to sample and to enjoy all day long, too.
Chili styles ranged from spicy red or white. Some chili recipes were made with beans and some without beans. There was chili made with shrimp, and chili made with corn.
Three chili judges representing sponsors and supporters of the event were Sandy Howard from Progressive Ozark Bank in Houston; Dr. Matt Brown from Mercy Clinic in Houston, and Diane Pierce from Online Metal Supply in Houston. Prizes were given to the chili teams who were competing in several different categories.
“Judges Choice” and first place went to “The Buckshots”, the TCMH med surg department which made a white chili. The judges awarded second place to “Walmart Super Chili”, by Houston Walmart Supercenter, for their traditional red chili. Third place went to “Hot Off the Farm”, by Justin Shelby’s State Farm Insurance office in Houston, for a slightly sweet beef and bean chili.
Seven teams made an additional chili style to enter into the “spicy” category. “Hot Off the Farm” also won the “Spiciest Chili” award, entering for a traditional red, spicy chili.
The cook off teams set up booths according to their team theme on Friday and Saturday morning of the event. All teams had a team name and a theme, and the judges awarded prizes to the best decorated booths and booth themes.
Houston R-1 School “Chili Chili Bang Bang” had a Latin American fiesta theme with sombreros on their table. “The A-Team” from Air Evac wore costumes representing different countries from around the world. “Gold Nugget Chili” was a wild West-themed booth by the Houston FLBA.
First place in the booth decorating category was “The Walking Wed Zombie Brides”, a gothic-style booth with skeletons and detritus of death. The OB department nurses dressed zombie brides, and Dr. Christopher Baldwin of TCMH dressed a zombie groom.
The TCMH med surg department nursing staff dressed in hunting attire as “The Buckshots”. The team created a hunting “lodge” from a pop up tent, complete with a glowing wood stove, and won second place for best team booth.
“Hot Off the Farm” won third place for booth decorations with fiery motorcycle décor.
Everyone in attendance was given a ballot to exercise their own vote for the “People’s Choice” in chili or chili cook off teams. “Tea Time with Team Jayson” won first for people’s choice. “The Buckshots” won second place in the people’s choice category. “Hot Off the Farm” came in third for people’s choice.
TCMH employees in attendance were given the opportunity to vote for the “TCMH Choice” among TCMH teams participating in the event. “Marvels”, the TCMH emergency department team, won among TCMH employee voters, an honor the team has enjoyed in the past.
Gentry noted that teams helped sell raffle tickets for a shotgun and a Kawasaki-brand utility vehicle that were raffled at the end of the event.
Kay Brugman of Edgar Springs won the UTV. Candy Cooper of Mountain Grove won the gun.
After Saturday’s event, the cook off raised $44,754 in cash donations and $14,412 in in-kind donations. All the proceeds raised by the Chili Cook Off support Hospice of Care and remain in Texas County to benefit area residents.
Donations came in the form of sponsorships by area businesses for chili teams, corporate and entertainment sponsorships, cash donations, and donations of items for the auctions.
The Healthcare Foundation has a designated “Hospice Fund” where the cook off funds and other donations to Hospice of Care are held.