Last hurrah for chili cook-off

How are you spending this Saturday, Nov. 9th? Why not stop by Earlyhouse for the final Central Virginia Charity Chili Cook-off?

For the tiny committee of volunteers that plans the annual event, this weekend will mark the end of an era. The group has dedicated 15 years to a cause very close to their hearts and, well, other organs. 

This small, close-knit group is comprised of men and women from Louisa, Richmond and the surrounding areas. All from different walks of life and all with a tale to tell about what brought them to the farmhouse table in the center of Bruce and Kathy Stiles’ dining room. 

Bruce, married to Kathy for almost half a century, was the lucky recipient of her kidney. Chuck Meeks, at the other side of the table, was a living donor for his daughter. 

Then there’s Leanna Davis, who benefited from a heart transplant many years ago and just underwent a kidneytransplant this summer. Her donor? A bandmate of her husband’s refused to take no for an answer, and this drive paid off for a big way—the biggest of ways. Leanna has a new lease on life, and her husband Rick sits alongside her chatting animatedly at the committee table. 

Elena Corbin, whose son and daughter-in-law brought her into the fold, has a fundraising prowess like few have ever seen.  

Some committee members live so close they can walk to the meetings, while others like Dana, Nancy, JoAnne and Gigi drive from Richmond to attend. They often make it after grueling workdays, sometimes in remote corners of Virginia. 

There are other cogs to this giant wheel of generosity. Additional volunteers help out the week leading up to and on the day of the cook-off. This year, 18 teams will contribute their time and money as they fill the lawns at Earlyhouse with steaming pots of chili and a healthy dose of sportsmanship. Local businesses and those spanning Richmond to Charlottesville do their part with merchandise sponsorships and donations for the silent auction. Many cook-off attendees have made it all 14 years and bring spirit, healthy appetites and their checkbooks to round out this display of philanthropy.

It is this kind of generosity of spirit that fills the seats at this table and that overwhelming spirit is palpable at the committee’s annual cook-off. In their 14 years they have raised close to $150,000 to benefit the National Kidney Foundation and the Good Doctors Foundation in Henrico.  

Look at the people around your dining room table. Chances are that someone you know or someone they know has been impacted by the great and growing need of organ donation.  

Now, bring those same people to Earlyhouse and celebrate your family, appreciate the gift of life and toast the genuinely good people you know.  

The 15th annual Central Virginia Charity Chili Cook-off will be from 12 to 5 p.m. at Earlyhouse, 3998 Yanceyville Road in Louisa. Admission is $10 for adults; $5 for children ages 3 to 12 and includes all chili samples. More details at earlyhouse.com.