A walk was a challenge, but chili, seniors could do.
When the Terry Fox Foundation contacted the Birchwood asking if the Chilliwack retirement home would be interested in hosting a walk, community relations coordinator Karen Corbeil was hesitant.
“A walk is a bit challenging for us,” said Corbeil, noting the age of their residents range anywhere from 70 to 95. “And I didn’t know how much money we’d actually be able to raise from it.”
But because the Birchwood was already hosting a block party, Corbeil suggested they tie in a fundraiser. And chili, she said, they could do.
“The seniors love chili, they really do.”
This Friday, July 22, the Birchwood is hosting a chili cook-off block party that is both a fundraiser and a meet-your-neighbours get together.
“Many people in the community know us as the Birchwood, the building, and a retirement residence for seniors,” said Corbeil. “What people may not be aware of is that we offer activities, social events, meeting space and support for all seniors in the community – even those who don’t live with us. We thought a block party would be a fun way for the public to get to know us and our residents.”
So far three certified chefs have put their chili recipes into the ring: two from Chartwell Seniors Housing group and one from Best Western Country Rainbow Inn.
“You can have a lot of fun with chili,” said Corbeil.
Whether by using secret ingredients like maybe chocolate or pineapple or something even crazier, or by coming up with a totally rocking name like Hunka Hunka Burning Chili, which one chef has already laid claim to.
Chili chefs will be dressed in theme to match their chili, and will be judged not only on the taste of their chili, but on showmanship as well.
For a donation, guests receive a taster kit that includes cups for the chili, a hot dog, drink and a ballot for the People’s Choice Award.
As well, judges will accept bribes by way of donation to the Terry Fox Foundation.
“Terry believed that every person could make a difference and we believe that too,” said Corbeil.
“For our seniors, this is about getting actively involved in fundraising. They really do appreciate being able to help out.”
A sentiment directors of the Terry Fox Foundation love to hear.
In an effort to continue senior involvement, the Terry Fox Foundation created the Silver Fox Run last year, which has the foundation teaming up with retirement homes to help create new, innovative ways for fundraising that work for the aging population.
Some homes have hosted movie nights, bake sales and book fairs. Some have had participants walking for months, logging their mileage, with a hope that by September, they’ll have clocked the full 10 km distance of the Terry Fox Run. In Chilliwack, they do chili cook-offs – all with the Terry Fox Foundation backing their efforts.
Donna White, provincial director of the Terry Fox Foundation said that because so many of Terry’s original supporters are now seniors, the foundation felt it imperative to create opportunities to allow them to continue their support if they so desired.
“We didn’t want to leave anybody out,” said White. “That was Terry’s wish, that anything held in his name is open and inclusive for anybody to participate.”
The chili cook-off is the first Terry Fox fundraiser in Chilliwack since the passing of Betty Fox last month.
“I think Betty’s passing has maybe reiterated for people this needs to keep going,” White said. “For 30 years Betty has been the face and the driving force of what we do, and what a nice way to continue to not only honour her son but to honour her.”
The Team Up for Terry Chili Cook-Off Block Party is from noon to 2 p.m. on Friday just outside the Birchwood on Patten Ave.
Any restaurant interested in competing can contact the Birchwood at 604-792-8793 ext. 2015.