Know what tastes sweeter than victory? Giving back to those in need. Just ask the 550+ guests who attended the 11th annual TECO Family BBQ Cook-off for Charity. And they’d likely describe the experience as a savory success too.
Since the pandemic, the annual tradition came back bigger than ever Saturday, March 26 at the Showmen’s Club in Riverview. Mother nature served up the perfect day full of blue skies, sunshine and a cool breeze off the Alafia River, as TECO team members and contractors cooked and competed – all in the name of charity.
TECO Family BBQ Cook-off for Charity is a separate 501(c)(3) entity from TECO and run by past and present team members. This year, they raised a record-breaking $20,000+ for Hooked on Hope, a local volunteer-led nonprofit helping uninsured and under-insured breast cancer patients in Tampa Bay.
“For a big company, such as TECO, to invite us out here and to donate thousands of dollars – it’s just the biggest blessing,” said Lori Hall, co-founder and director of Hooked on Hope. “That’s going to help so many breast cancer patients…it’s almost overwhelming!”
Hooked on Hope will use the proceeds to purchase post-operative necessities for breast cancer patients, like Amy Black. “I just had my double mastectomy and got done with radiation and was unable to work, so these ladies have been amazing and have been my saving grace,” said Black who is also a recipient of the charity’s one-time cash grant, which helps patients and their families pay for day-to-day living expenses. “They have been helping me pay my rent for the past three months,” said Black.
“We need the money so badly because during COVID, just like every other charity suffered, we suffered, and our money really dwindled down,” said Hall. “We are very blessed to continue this second annual partnership, and we are forever grateful to TECO. For what they do – not only for us, but for the community at large.”
Because it all boils down to community and cause, and Tampa Electric Lead Administrative Specialist Scarlett Smith should know. She’s been running the show for the past 11 years, before stepping down after this year. To thank Smith for her commitment, Tampa Electric Technical Training Supervisor Sam Nowakowski presented her with a special award. “In honor of Scarlett Smith, for your dedication and support of the TECO Family BBQ Cook-Off for Charity. We’d like to thank you for over 11 years of your continuous service, commitment and organization,” said Nowakowski. “You’ve made the past 11 years possible.”
In addition to trying all the tasty BBQ, guests got to partake in a variety of outdoor festivities, including a car show, kid crafts, face painting, music, a dunk tank and a Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office show-and-tell.
Although the biggest winners of the day are Hooked on Hope recipients, who benefit from the generosity of TECO team members and other attendees, here are the other first-place winners of the BBQ Cook-Off for Charity by category:
Dessert: Smokin’ Ain’t EZ BBQ
Chicken Wings: Smokin’ Ain’t EZ BBQ
Sauce: Smokin’ Ain’t EZ BBQ
Chicken: Take U 2 Skool BBQ
Ribs: Secondhand Smoke
Beef Brisket: Ramblin’ Fork BBQ Company
People’s Choice: Enercon BBQ
Grand Champion: Ramblin’ Fork BBQ Company
TECO team members and contractors cooked and competed Saturday, March 26 – all in the name of charity.
The 11th annual TECO Family BBQ Cook-off for Charity raised a record-breaking $20,000+ for Hooked on Hope to help local uninsured and under-insured breast cancer patients.
Thanks to the generosity of TECO team members, breast cancer patients like Amy Black (left), pictured with Lori Hall (right), co-founder and director of Hooked on Hope, can focus on healing and worry less about mounting medical bills.
The TECO Family BBQ Cook-off for Charity Committee paid a special tribute to Lead Administrative Specialist Scarlett Smith (3rd from left) who’s stepping down as lead event coordinator after 11 years.
Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister announced an additional $2,000 donation to Hooked on Hope through the TECO Family BBQ Cook-off for Charity.
Ramblin’ Fork BBQ Company took home the Grand Champion first place prize.