By BRIAN SMITH
Chili’s on Monday is hosting a nationwide fundraiser for a girl suffering from a debilitating disease.
The fundraiser takes place at nearly 120 Chili’s locations, including the Weatherford location off Interstate 20. Go there between 10:45 a.m. and 10:30 p.m. Monday and mention the girl’s name, Brooke Hester, and 10 percent of the money spent on the meal benefits Brooke’s Blossoming Hope for Childhood Cancer Foundation (aka “Brooke’s Blossoms and Buddies”).
Between noon and 1 p.m. at the Weatherford Chili’s, some members of the Dallas Cowboys, including kicker Chris Jones, are expected to sign autographs, according to event organizer and local Chili’s employee Tina Leatherman.
Brooke, whose sixth birthday is Monday, is suffering from high-risk, stage IV neuroblastoma cancer, which she was diagnosed with in November 2010. She has undergone nonstop treatment for the disease ever since but continues to fight.
The fundraiser has a special Weatherford connection. Brooke’s parents were married in 2001 at Zion Hill Baptist Church. Brooke’s mom,
Jessica, was a student at Weatherford College when the couple met. Chili’s has a special place in little Brooke’s heart as well, as it is her favorite place to eat.
Leatherman said she was working one night when Wanda Hibbits, a former teacher of Jessica Hester’s husband, Beau, approached her and told the story of what little Brooke was going through. Leatherman contacted her managers and through a series of e-mails, a fundraiser for Brooke was created and expanded.
“It started local and then my manager started spreading the word and before we knew it, we had Chili’s from Arizona to Florida taking part,” Leatherman said. “It’s really a wonderful gesture.”
Other Chili’s restaurants taking part locally include Mineral Wells, Cleburne and Granbury.
Jessica Hester said through an e-mail that the family was visiting a local Chili’s in the Corpus Christi area where they live and the fundraiser blossomed from there.