Even those who benefit from the money do not always live long enough to see its legacy continue. Last year’s recipient, Floyd Knobs resident Justin Wade, died from a brain tumor seven months after being honored at the cook-off. Almost $50,000 had been raised at the 2012 Chili Bowl, its biggest year to date.
Justin had struggled with cancer for more than 20 years. He survived a rare bone carcinoma as a teenager. Living his life to the fullest, Justin married his wife Sally and had two children. Shortly after the birth of his youngest, the disease returned and a year later claimed his life.
“When he was first diagnosed at 17, he had a 5 percent chance. In Justin’s terms, he would always say he was living on borrowed time. The fact is he got another 20 years and he got to get married and had kids,” Sally said. “Even in the end, he said, ‘I’m going to face this like I’ve faced everything else.’ He was very, very brave.”
Able to spend time with Justin before his passing, Sally credited the money raised by the Chili Bowl for making those final days easier. Justin didn’t need to worry as much about his fledgling family, she said, a gift that provided him with relief as he bravely decided to stop treatments. He would face death without the effects of chemo or other debilitating treatments.
“[The donations] allowed us to just breathe and not worry about what was going to come afterward. We could just take a step back and say, ‘We are going to be OK.’ It gave Justin peace of mind,” Sally said. “He wouldn’t have been such at ease with his decision if he had thought that he was leaving us with a huge financial burden.”