Emma is a happy  six year-old patient from St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital who battled acute lymphoblastic lymphoma, a type of childhood cancer, shortly before her fourth birthday. Fortunately, the doctors at St. Jude were able to treat Emma and her cancer is now in remission. Thanks to the generosity of guests and restaurant team members nationwide and in Puerto Rico, Chili’s Grill & Bar eighth annual Create-A-Pepper to Fight Childhood Cancer campaign raised more than $5 million to help kids like Emma receiving lifesaving care at St. Jude.

Create-A-Pepper ran during National Childhood Cancer Awareness month in September, and contributions from this year brings the campaign total to $40 million – moving closer to the brand’s record-setting goal of $50 million over ten years – which will be the largest donation from a single-partner campaign in St. Jude history.

“Hearing the personal stories of patient families and how they are battling the life-threatening diseases impacting their children is what motivates Chili’s to do our part for Emma and other children like her,” says Wyman Roberts, president of Chili’s Grill & Bar.

“A special thanks to our guests and team members for their participation during the Create-A-Pepper campaign, which allows Chili’s to restore hope and bring back smiles to the faces of so many deserving children.”

The $5 million donation was attributed largely in part to guests’ participation in many of the campaign’s traditional elements, including decorating chili pepper coloring sheets, whether in-restaurant or online; dining at Chili’s on Donate Profits Day, when the brand donates 100 percent of profits to St. Jude; and purchasing Create-A-Pepper merchandise such as T-shirts, HOPE slap bands, and more.

Several interactive initiatives were incorporated to increase donations while raising awareness for the campaign.

“Pass-A-Pepper for Hope,” a program introduced this year, encouraged guests to spread the word about Create-A-Pepper to family and friends, and in return earn free food from Chili’s when they hit certain donation benchmarks.

Chili’s Email Club members received a message with a unique trackable link that could be forwarded to friends. Guests were rewarded with prizes such as free Chips & Salsa, Chips & Queso and other appetizer, or dessert favorites, as more people donated through their unique link.

The addition of QR codes printed on the back of the coloring sheets and restaurant table tents, directed guests to either a special patient thank you message or to the campaign website, and served as an extra resource for how people could get involved and give back to St. Jude.

“Thank you, on behalf of desperately ill children everywhere, to all the Chili’s guests for their incredible generosity during the Create-A-Pepper campaign,” says Richard Shadyac Jr., CEO of ALSAC, the fundraising organization of St. Jude.

“Your support will help St. Jude continue the pioneering research that leads to new and better treatments for children at St. Jude and around the world fighting cancer and other deadly diseases. And we are so thankful for the Chili’s team members for their dedication toward raising $50 million for St. Jude. We truly value and appreciate their partnership in the fight against childhood cancer.”

Other highlights of the 2011 Create-A-Pepper campaign included:

  • 235,000 visitors during September to Web donation site;
  • 291,000 specialized QR code scanned;
  • 6,580 peppers created and shared online through the Create-A-Pepper website.

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is internationally recognized for its pioneering research and treatment of children with cancer and other life-threatening diseases.  It is the first and only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center devoted solely to children, and no family ever pays St. Jude for care.

Chili’s Grill & Bar is the flagship brand of Dallas-based Brinker International, Inc., a recognized leader in casual dining with more than 1,500 locations in 32 countries and two territories.

About Create-A-Pepper: Each September during National Childhood Cancer Awareness month, Chili’s Grill & Bar hosts a nationwide fundraiser for longtime charitable partner, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in an effort to raise $50 million in 10 years to support the St. Jude mission of finding cures and saving children.

Industry News, Philanthropy, Chili's