DALLAS, Sept. 3, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- In 2002 a handful of Chili's® Grill & Bar restaurants in Memphis, Tenn. put their big passion for giving back behind what seemed like a small idea at the time – raise money for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital®. With only crayons and chili-pepper shaped coloring sheets as a way for guests to donate, the team members hoped to raise a few hundred dollars. More than $14,000 later, they realized they were on to something big. Now what began as a seven-restaurant fundraiser has become a national fundraising campaign, taking place at more than 1,200 Chili's every September as part of National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.
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This year marks the tenth anniversary of the partnership between Chili's and St. Jude, which is leading the way the world understands, treats and defeats childhood cancer and other deadly diseases. Thanks to the relentless support of guests and team members, Chili's has raised $46 million to date and is on track to reach or exceed the brand's extraordinary commitment of donating $50 million to the hospital in 10 years – the largest donation from a single-partner campaign in St. Jude history. These critical funds will help ensure that no family ever receives a bill from St. Jude.
In celebration of the 10-year milestone and to encourage new guests to give back to the cause through their local restaurant, Chili's is putting a fresh spin on the campaign's name. Formerly known as "Create-A-Pepper," Chili's More Hope Campaign for St. Jude extends the brand's current anthem of sharing moments of More Life Happens HereSM with family and friends beyond the table and into the community.
"The dedication and passion of our guests and team members over the years has brought a great sense of hope to the patients and families of St. Jude, and this hope only gets stronger with each year of the campaign," said Wyman Roberts, CEO and president of Brinker International and president of Chili's Grill & Bar. "Whether it's team members proudly displaying their intricately-designed campaign T-shirts, parents of a St. Jude patient letting their inner child come out by decorating a signature chili-pepper shaped coloring sheet, or guests sharing how they gave back with their social network, these are the special moments that – no matter what the name – the Chili's and St. Jude partnership is all about."
Now through Sept. 25, guests at participating Chili's restaurants nationwide and in Puerto Rico can help in the fight against childhood cancer and other deadly diseases by donating at their local restaurant. With some favorite campaign traditions, like slap bands, and new components, such as a feature dessert, participating in the More Hope Campaign is as easy as spelling C-H-I-L-I-S:
*62 percent of the purchase price of each T-shirt and 70 percent of the purchase price of each Slap Band sold will be donated to St. Jude.
"This year, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital and Chili's Grill & Bar celebrate a great milestone - the fulfillment of a 10-year commitment to raise $50 million to help further the research and treatment of deadly childhood diseases," said Richard Shadyac Jr., CEO of ALSAC/St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. "Chili's continues to be an incredible partner raising invaluable awareness and funds for our mission. We look forward to this year's campaign and honor their efforts by continuing to do everything possible to end childhood cancer and other deadly diseases."
About St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
Since opening more than 50 years ago, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital has changed the way the world treats childhood cancer and other life-threatening diseases. No family ever pays St. Jude for the care their child receives and, for every child treated here, thousands more have been saved worldwide through St. Jude discoveries. The hospital has played a pivotal role in pushing U.S. pediatric cancer survival rates from 20 to 80 percent overall, and is the first and only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center devoted solely to children. It is also a leader in the research and treatment of blood disorders and infectious diseases in children. St. Jude was founded by the late entertainer Danny Thomas, who believed that no child should die in the dawn of life. Join that mission by visiting stjude.org or following us on facebook.com/stjude and twitter.com/stjude.
About Chili's Grill & Bar
Chili's® Grill & Bar is the flagship brand of Dallas-based Brinker International, Inc. (NYSE: EAT), a recognized leader in casual dining. Chili's offers a variety of Southwestern-inspired, classic American favorites at nearly 1,600 locations in 33 countries and two territories. In addition to Chili's, Brinker owns and operates Maggiano's Little Italy®.
At Chili's, More Life Happens HereSM around every table, every day, at every Chili's across the country. Guests are encouraged to share their stories of More Life Happening at their restaurant by connecting with the brand on Chili's blog (blog.chilis.com), Facebook (http://facebook.com/chilis), Twitter (http://twitter.com/chilis), YouTube (http://youtube.com/chilis) and Pinterest (http://pinterest.com/chilis). For more brand-related information, please visit http://www.chilis.com.
Editor's note: Electronic press kit containing downloadable, high-res images and videos, patients' stories, Chili's and all campaign-related press materials can be found at http://www.multivu.com/mnr/63083-chili-s-more-hope-for-st-jude-2013.
SOURCE Chili's Grill & Bar