A sunny and breezy Friday afternoon was the setting for an annual event that brought more than 100 people to downtown Morris, all for a good cause.
On June 7, Grundy Bank hosted the 13th Annual Hot Dog Eating Contest.
The event was part of the bank's Brown Bag Fridays, a select group of Friday afternoons featuring food and entertainment held on the Grundy County Courthouse lawn. The 10 hot dog contest participants included local business, civic, community and non-profit leaders, with each contestant earning donations for their cause.
David Valdivia reclaimed the championship this year, while earning cash for the Morris Redskins Soccer Boosters. The was his fourth championship out of five years participating in the contest.
"I lost last year, but I came back to win my title back," Valdivia said. "For soccer boosters, our soccer program has risen, I became a coach eight years ago. We won seven regional championships. This [fundraising] helps them go to Eastern Illinois for camp, because it's about $400 each player and anything helps."
Valdivia also serves on the Grundy County Board, and said he keeps active in events all over town.
"I'm involved everywhere. The high school, the YMCA, I'm a community member," he said.
Valdivia raised $93 on his own for the soccer boosters, with Grundy Bank adding in $250 for his win.
This year's top fundraiser was Kim Deslauriers with Immaculate Conception School. Deslauriers collected a total of $1,936 for ICS, with Grundy Bank adding an additional $250 into the pot. Deslauriers isn't a big fan of hot dogs, but said he was happy to participate to raise cash for the school, where he just retired from the principal's chair after 39 years.
"The first time they did this, years ago, I was in it then. That's been maybe 10 years ago. But, I was asked to do it, and it raisies money for our school," he said. "I don't like hot dogs, so if I can down one hot dog, I'll be doing really well. I do like the atmosphere adn I like the event. It's a great community event, and that's why I'm here."
Other contestants said the event was less about winning, and more about the community.
"It's for a great cause," said Katie McInerny, who raised $776 for We Care of Grundy County. "It's not just eating the hotdogs, we get a lot of people out here supporting local charities and we've got 10 charities up there that are all going to make great money today from this. We've got wonderful weather, and this has been going on for 13 years. So, I'm glad to continue the tradition."
In total, the event raised $6,700 for the ten charities and causes involved. Beneficiaries of the event were Morris 54 PTO, Morris Community YMCA, United Way of Grundy County, Morris Warriors, ICS, Morris Redskins Soccer Boosters, We Care of Grundy County, Habitat for Humanity, Just Animals, and Morris Chiefs football.
"We're trying to promote the charities," said Kevin Olson, President and CEO of Grundy Bank.
"But also we create awareness, help them to raise some money, and it's just fun to do. We have a good time doing it, it gives everybody something to do on a Friday afternoon, and it's just the kind of become a tradition of its own."