Back in 2002, seven Memphis area Chili's restaurants put out crayons and coloring pages featuring chili peppers, and asked diners for a buck to color a chili pepper, with all the proceeds going to their beacon of hope- St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. Together, those seven locations raised $14,000 that year. Just a few years later in 2006, Chili's became a corporate sponsor of St. Jude, pledging to raise a whooping $50 million dollars over a 10 year period. Not surprisingly, the place that made chips, queso, and Presidente Margaritas famous, hit the $54 million donation mark in just seven years. That's a whole lot of sizzlin' fajitas.
In honor of the partnership, a state-of-the-art-building was named the Chili's Care Center. Completed in November 2007, the center houses the bone marrow transplant inpatient floor, the Department of Radiological Sciences, inpatient activity areas and research laboratories. The center provides St. Jude kids with more sophisticated diagnostic imaging technologies and more precise radiation therapy.
September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month and Chili's Restaurants, along with country music sensation Lady Antebellum, are working together to celebrate Chilis' 13th year of raising money for St. Jude, as well as awareness of pediatric cancer and encouraging restaurant guests to join the cause.
"The Create-A-Pepper for St. Jude campaign is our favorite time of the year, and I'm honored to be a part of an amazing team of people who are raising funds so St. Jude can focus on what matters most - finding cures and saving children." said Wyman Roberts, CEO and president of Brinker International and president of Chili's Grill & Bar. And Lady Antebellum's Hillary Scott agrees, "St. Jude has always been an organization that we are quick to jump in and support. As a band and as parents, we love the work they do for kids fighting really tough stuff like cancer. It's something really close to our hearts and we're excited to be part of what Chili's is doing to help advocate for these kids and their families."
Today, the Chili's and St. Jude partnership thrives because of their mutual goal of putting an end to childhood cancer. It's because of partnerships like this that no family ever receives a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing, or food because all a family should have to worry about is helping their child live.