Ok, I know that the spoons with which we always taste the yummy chili crafted in the kitchens and crockpots of local “Limestonians” are really made out of plastic, but this year we get to pretend that they are silver, the color of a 25th anniversary celebration. It is hard to believe that a quarter of a century has passed since local residents began to band together in order to support an organization whose purpose is to make the passage from life to death less difficult for all. I am, of course, speaking of the mission of Hospice of Limestone County, and I have personally seen them in action. They are wonderful, and I am glad we come together once a year to make sure they can continue to do their job well. In these times of uncertainty regarding health care, and when our culture is increasingly encouraged to look to government to provide all our needs, it is a healthy statement that the private citizens of Limestone County are of a mind to see to it that excellent, highly professional end of life in-home care is provided for all those in need, as well as their families.
In addition, Hospice of Limestone County sees to it that bereaved families have access to professionally trained counselors and support long after the initial shock of losing a loved one has passed. Their focus is not just adult children who have lost their parents or other loved ones. Camp Hope is operated specifically for grieving kids aged 5-12 in order to give them the help and tools they need to cope with tremendous loss at such a vulnerable age, have a chance to build community with their peers and adults who understand their situation, and even manage to have some fun in the process. Between hospice in-home care and Camp Hope, over 300 families in Limestone County were touched by the care that Hospice of Limestone County extends to the community. Pat King, the Executive Director for Hospice of Limestone County, says that the actual number of families that are helped by non-hospice related counseling as well as indigent care is greater than what is reflected by their records.
On February 23rd, we will once again have a chance to enjoy great chili, music, homemade goodies, and each other, as well as bid on everything from art to antiques to lawn care at the Silent Auction. Athens High School will again be the site where we go for the “gastronomical gusto,” and we will leave with full tummies and hearts. Tickets are $10, kids 10 and under get in free, and last year over 3,000 people attended. More than $50,000 was raised; there’s no reason why we can’t beat that amount in 2013. Amanda Speegle is this year’s chair, and says that it is fascinating to see what the cooks come up with, especially when you consider that they use everything from pumpkin to venison for their ingredients. Many recipes are kept secret, but in honor of the 25th anniversary of Chili Challenge, Chris Spann, the original winner from the first Challenge, has graciously shared his first place prize winner with us below:
Chris is going to be one of this year’s judges, and there are several categories of competition. There is a Critics’ Choice for an individual entry, Critics’ Choice for a group entry, the Peoples’ Choice, and an award for the Best Booth. Names for booths and chili can be as varied as “Crime Scene” and “Dragon Breath,” and the creativity, hard work and team efforts that go into chili and the “cribs” are one of the things that makes the Challenge so fun. As of this printing, there are still slots available for those who wish to compete in the 2013 Challenge, but you’d better move fast, because they always fill up.
Tickets are available at the Hospice headquarters, located in Athens at 405 S. Marion, as well as at the door. The Hospice phone is 256-232-5017, and they can give you more information, whether you want to compete or only to attend. See you at the Challenge!
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner