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For many people undergoing cancer treatment, the emotional and financial costs—traveling to countless doctor appointments, co-pays, prescriptions, and other out-of-pocket expenses—are overwhelming.
To help ease the financial burdens, Indiana’s Boone County Cancer Society raises money for local cancer patients. Their annual fundraising event, Lebanon, Indiana’s Battle of the BBQ, taps into people’s love of barbecue and showcases the local talent of barbecue connoisseurs.
Now in its 12th year, the August 10th event was held at Memorial Park in Lebanon. According to organizer Joy Kaylor, executive director of the Boone County Cancer Society, the event was record-breaking, both in the number of teams competing and money raised. They raised $52,000 this year, which is $10,000 more than last year and well above the $10,000 raised in its first year thanks to ever-growing participation.
Distributed throughout the year in $1,000 portions to every cancer patient applicant, the funds are raised in a variety of ways at the event: sponsor donations, silent auction, 50/50 raffle, food sales, and a portion of firefighter t-shirt sales.
For the competition, 42 teams signed up to cook off, showing up at 7:00 a.m. to start smoking or grilling, depending on preference. Many teams make their own rubs and sauces to stand out in the judging. Diners eat from 5:00-7:00 p.m., paying $10 ($5 for kids) to sample all the barbecue submissions for the competition and vote for their favorite, while enjoying side dishes and desserts provided by local churches and other organizations.
Barbecue contest awards were given for the following categories: best overall, sweet, rub/marinade, hot/spicy, and brisket. There’s no entry fee for the cooks, who do it for the love of barbecue and to donate their time to a good cause.
Railer’s IGA was one of this year’s new event sponsors, with Owner Bill Massingill negotiating a discounted price on the meat used in the competition. Each participant is given two pork loins to cook with, so that discount goes a long way. Massingill was excited to be able to help with this year’s event. “After working with one of my meat wholesalers, Ideal Meats out of Indianapolis, and with Indiana Packers from Delphi, I was able to secure a very good price for the boneless pork loins,” he said. “This alone saved them close to $800. I also donated over $150 worth of meat and gave them several gift cards to distribute to their clients.”
“They gave us a really good deal,” echoed Kaylor.
Railer’s IGA also provided $5 coupons for each team to go toward other supplies, which about 20 of the teams ended up using in the store.
While Massingill has been involved with IGA since he was six years old through his step-father’s store in Sheridan, Indiana, he recently became the official owner of Railer’s IGA (which will be changing its name in the near future) and has jumped into being more involved in the community.
“I have always loved the IGA mantra of ‘Hometown Proud,’” he said. “I try to live by that and instill it in the people I work with. I love making sure the community knows we are here to take care of them and help with whatever we can.”
Massingill and his wife, Rachel, have five children, so they plan to change the store’s name to 7M's Lebanon IGA. “I like keeping the name of the town in the [store] name to make the community feel like it’s theirs and not just the owner’s,” he said.
An extra bonus with this year’s event: “They also asked me to be a judge, which was a huge highlight for me,” he said, adding that choosing the winners was a tough decision. “I know what kind of effort it takes to cook like this and it is very hard to be too picky. There were a few that definitely stood out from the rest, for my taste, but overall they were all very good.” Would he do it again? “Yes, as long as they will have me, I plan to help out again next year,” he said.