By Sarah Banks
This past November, 11 year old Jaden Del Guercio held a chili cook-off in the cul-de-sac of his neighborhood in Tarzana, CA to honor his Grandpa James. In 2001, Jaden lost his Grandpa to pancreatic cancer; it was the very same year he was born so they never had the chance to meet. Jaden’s family had actually participated in the LA Cancer Challenge for several years so his father and aunt told him all about the Hirshberg Foundation. So Jaden set out to raise money to benefit pancreatic cancer research and bring awareness to his school through community service. He began planning a chili cook-off!
Neighbors, the moms of several friends, and his parents all helped make chili for the tastings and competition. Once they were ready, there were nine types of chili to taste! He emailed an invitation and asked people to spread the word. Over seventy people attended- both adults and kids ages 3 to 70 years old. His friends, family, and neighbors came out to support. His mom and dad helped set up the tables and electrical to keep the chili hot. They also helped him organize all the tastings, as he charged a small flat fee to sample each chili. Jaden had his very own table where he collected all of the donations, counted all the competition votes, at the end of the event he announced the lucky winner.
The prize was a giant engraved silver spoon and a chili pepper necklace! Jaden’s goal was to raise $200 but by the end of the fundraiser, he’d raised over $730. The chili cook-off was a great success and everyone was very generous. Jaden and his parents plan to do another fundraiser benefiting The Hirshberg Foundation because people loved it so much! After the event, Jaden said, “It was my first time doing something like this. It makes me feel good to raise money for a good cause and it means a lot to me and my family.” His mom, Nicole, added “Jaden was named after his Grandpa. He was a loving and kind man and would’ve been so proud.”