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Good chili for a good cause

For chili lovers, there’s no real need for a good excuse to eat chili. The simple fact of a steaming pot of the concoction is usually enticement enough. And the chance to taste a new recipe or two can be temptation enough for true chili lovers to travel great distances and brave unforgiving weather.

On Saturday, chili lovers from all over Hampton Roads braved only the traffic and potential indigestion to fill their bowls and their stomachs with chili from 18 different contestants during the Bennett’s Creek Sertoma Club’s annual chili cook-off. For many of those attending the event, the fact that the event raised money for a good cause was just icing on the cake — or cheese on the chili, as it were.

In fact, the Sertoma Club uses the money raised during this major event to help improve the lives of children who are battling speech and hearing impairments and to support the Reading Enriches All Children program in Suffolk.

This year, organizers were taken by surprise when thousands of people — encouraged by the promise of a beautiful day at Bennett’s Creek Park, as well as the promise of lots of tasty chili — turned out for the event. With a membership of just 30, the Sertoma Club gets help from a variety of other volunteers and service organizations to make the event come together. They needed all the help they could get, as an early rush of visitors nearly overwhelmed the participating chefs.

It’s a true community effort, and a testament to the selflessness of that community.