By Pam Wright
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
A steady stream of barbecue lovers helped push Epilepsy Southwestern Ontario’s (ESO) Drive-Thru Ribfest beyond expectation.
More than 2,300 hungry supporters turned out at Chatham’s Memorial Arena on the weekend to sample the wares and contribute to the cause.
“We exceeded our goal of raising $15,000 through donations,” said Sandra Pidduck Monday morning.
After adding everything up, it turns out they raised nearly $44,000.
“The community really came through.”
The event, the first to be held in more than a year, was carefully mapped out and COVID-19 safe. Pidduck, who serves as an epilepsy educator for Chatham-Kent, said the event had strong support from the municipality and public health.
Volunteer support was strong as well, Pidduck noted.
“We had tons of people who wanted to help,” she added. “They said they didn’t care what they did, they just wanted to pitch in.”
ESO is strictly non-profit, relying solely on fundraising as it does not receive government funding.
According to Pidduck, the organization is a first stop for local residents diagnosed with epilepsy, which according to statistics is about 16 people out of 1,000.
One in 10 people will have a seizure in their lifetime as well.
“We help them find supports and access services,” she said.
Bringing awareness to local educators and workplaces is another important role of the agency, Pidduck explained.
Three out-of-town vendors, Boss Hog’s, Silver Bullet BBQ and Ribs Royale BBQ, served up the goods.
Pidduck said the ribbers wanted to come and help the non-profit achieve its goal.
“They told us. ‘We love Chatham-Kent.’”