Big Barbecue Bash makes $50,000 impact on area charities

Listening to speaker Jerry Vagnier, right, with Helen Ross McNabb and the Leadership Blount Class of 2007, are Randy Massey and Melissa Copelan.

Photo by Leslie Karnowski

Listening to speaker Jerry Vagnier, right, with Helen Ross McNabb and the Leadership Blount Class of 2007, are Randy Massey and Melissa Copelan.

On hand to accept checks for their charities and to celebrate the monies raised by the Big BBQ Bash are, from left, Bruce Presnell, Dave Roberts, Julie Nelson, Randy Massey, Charlie Wear, Marianne Freitag, Jim Koons, Jerry Vagnier, Gregg Reiter, Brian Smith, Rusty Forester, Eddie Everhart, Teresa Cutshaw and Shiloh.

Photo by Leslie Karnowski

On hand to accept checks for their charities and to celebrate the monies raised by the Big BBQ Bash are, from left, Bruce Presnell, Dave Roberts, Julie Nelson, Randy Massey, Charlie Wear, Marianne Freitag, Jim Koons, Jerry Vagnier, Gregg Reiter, Brian Smith, Rusty Forester, Eddie Everhart, Teresa Cutshaw and Shiloh.

In two years, the total charitable impact of the Big BBQ Bash organized by Leadership Blount Class of 2007 is more than $50,000.

On Aug. 19, the planning committee for the Big BBQ Bash, representatives of the bash’s major charities and friends gathered at the site for the planned Blount County Community Campus adjacent to the Blount County Children’s Home to hand out checks to various charities.

“I think for us the idea that so many different charities realized benefits from our event is very special,” class member Melissa Copelan said.

Copelan said that not only did the event beneficiary Helen Ross McNabb and the Blount County Campus Initiative receive $8,200, seven different charities received a combined $10,500 in donations from this year’s winners. Winners in the barbecue contest were required to donate half their prize money to a charity.

The winners weren’t the only ones making donations. According to class member Doug Horn, organizations and entrants who participated in the barbecue and sold food and other items often were doing so for area charities as well, raising another $4,901 for everything from churches to charities. The total charitable impact for the 2008 BBQ Bash was more than $23,600, and the total impact over the two years was more than $50,000, he said.

“That is very, very special,” Copelan said.

While the class supported the New Hope Children’s Advocacy Center in the event’s first year, they choose to slightly change direction in 2008. “As we looked at how we wanted the event to evolve, the Blount County Community Campus seemed like a natural progression as it would benefit not only New Hope, but Helen Ross McNabb’s Blount County initiative as well,” Copelan said.

Copelan said the plan to create a campus for social services for children throughout the community struck the class as a big goal. “Our class was about dong something big and audacious,” she said. “It was a good idea that had legs.”

Copelan said that for the overall barbecue, class members and other volunteers don’t really keep track of our hours. “Starting with weekly committee meetings, there are so many hours people spend planning the event. I’d say we spend in the hundreds of hours planning,” she said. “We all deeply enjoyed our leadership experience through Leadership Blount, and we have a passion for giving back to the community in a significant way.”

Donations from the winners included:

• Soggy Bottom Smokers (1st brisket, 2nd pulled pork, 2nd ribs, best of show): Shriners Hospital for Children - $3,000

• Piggy Bankers (2nd brisket, 3rd chicken): Susan G. Komen Foundation - $1,125

• U.S. Food Service (3rd brisket, 1st chicken): Blount County Humane Society - $1,875

• Chairman of the Boar (2nd chicken, 3rd ribs): Blount County Relay for Life - $1,125

• Smoke on the Water (1st pulled pork): Blount CARE - $1,500

• Natural Born Grillers (3rd pulled pork): Damon & Stella Foundation for Mental Health - $375

• Blood, Sweat, & Gears (1st ribs): Smoky Mountain Animal Care Foundation - $1,500.

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