Chili’s Grill & Bar and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital are celebrating a massive milestone this week. The casual dining staple known for its Southwest-inspired American favorites, on behalf of its Guests, has officially raised and donated more than $100 million cumulatively to benefit the lifesaving mission of St. Jude: Finding cures. Saving children. Chili’s is one of the first partners of St. Jude to reach this milestone.
“What an incredible milestone by our great friends at Chili’s, who have raised $100 million for St. Jude kids through 20 years of support,” says Richard C. Shadyac Jr., president and CEO of ALSAC, the fundraising and awareness organization for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. “We are so grateful to Chili’s for championing St. Jude patients and families from the beginning of this partnership that has expanded and been embraced by Chili’s Team Members, Guests and ChiliHeads everywhere. We look forward to continuing this wonderful partnership, which will enable St. Jude to help the 400,000 children around the world each year with cancer and other life-threatening diseases.”
The partnership began in 2002 when Memphis, Tenn., Chili’s Team Members, including then-General Manager (now Director of Operations) Dharam Rampersad, were looking for a way to connect with their local community. They created the first version of the Create-a-Pepper campaign and raised $14,000 to help find cures and save kids. Since then, Chili’s led the Create-a-Pepper campaign nationally, turning a paper pepper coloring sheet into a “work of heart.”
“At Chili’s, we’re all about making everyone feel special, and giving back is not only an important part of who we are, but also one way to bring our purpose to life,” says Chili’s EVP, Chief People Officer Aaron White. “We’re especially focused on supporting groups with missions impacting kids, education and hunger – and our partnership with St. Jude helps save kids’ lives. We wouldn’t have been able to reach this $100 million milestone without the help of our Team Members and Guests.”
Chili’s was the first corporate partner to have its name on a building on the St. Jude campus in Memphis with the Chili’s Care Center in 2007, which not only provides a welcoming space for children with cancer but houses a translational research center that facilitates collaboration between clinicians and researchers for better clinical outcomes. When St. Jude opened in 1962, childhood cancer was considered incurable. Since then, St. Jude has helped push the overall survival rate from 20 percent to more than 80 percent, and you can join Chili’s in helping St. Jude reach its ultimate goal of making sure no child dies from cancer.
The $100 million in donations are made up of Chili’s Guests rounding up or adding their preferred amount on checks, buying merchandise, and fundraising at events. The addition of the round up program in mid-2020 powered Chili’s to its most successful fundraising year for St. Jude, further allowing their team of medical professionals to ensure families never receive a bill for treatment, travel, housing or food.