“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”— Ralph Waldo Emerson
Old Ralph Waldo had it right, and the boys who started Operation BBQ Relief (OBR) also had it right. Belonging to a cause, embracing an issue, helping someone in need – be it one person or many – will polish your heart and make you feel better, even better than those being helped.
Just ask people such as Stan Hayes, Will Cleaver, and Jeff Stith, co-founders of OBR. Founded in response to a devastating tornado that wreaked havoc in Joplin, Missouri, volunteers from competition barbecue teams from eight states answered the call to help feed displaced families as well as first responders such as police, fire, National Guardsmen, and emergency personnel.
That was in May of 2011, and they served over 120,000 meals during a 13-day period.
Seven years later, OBR was still at work feeding those in need. This time they were in Florida and in Wilmington, North Carolina, where they reached the milestone of having served 2 million meals.
After 24 days in the field, they were heading back to their Kansas base when a news report discussed the horrendous Camp Fire in California. So they took a left turn and headed for the Pacific Coast.
As the OBR team was heading home, Emily McGee began her five-hour drive back to Washington, D.C. McGee is the Communications director for the Hearth, Barbecue & Patio Association (HPBA), and she had just spent five days in deployment with OBR in Wilmington.
During those five days, she helped with communications, worked on keeping the area clean (very important), learned how to pull the bone out of a pork butt, and served meals. McGee was there to see and learn how OBR functions so that she could better help them with some of their operations.
It was a learning experience, a sobering experience, and an emotional experience. Her story begins in Pullin' Pork & Doin' Good.
The Guidry Clan
You just can’t keep a good Cajun down!
It was Ray Guidry who designed and built the first Cajun Grill as a present for his dad, Percy. That was back in 1963, and it was a charcoal grill made of heavy-duty, black-painted steel. For three decades that grill sold well in the local region. When grandsons Keith and Gregg Guidry got into the family business, they took it nationwide; sales grew 50% annually for seven years.
Then competition from Chinese gas barbecues sold at Big Box stores put a lot of Mom-and-Pop stores out of business, and the Guidrys’ business went down rapidly. Now the boys are back, and this time it’s with a stainless-steel premium grill that is fully featured and priced right.
The official debut will be at the HPBExpo in Dallas, Texas, this March. Their story begins in The Cajun Comeback.