Chili’s Teams With Motor Enthusiasts to Save Children

September 24, 2013 in Ocala News

A Poster for St. Jude at the Local Chili'sOCALA, Fla., Sept. 21 (THP) — Saturday, Ocala’s Chili’s and James Watson, the organizer of an independent car show, joined forces to raise funds for St. Jude Children’s Hospital. Sheri Brinck, key manager at Chili’s, handled the arrangements on Chili’s side. A total of $1,155 was raised from this singular event. Chili’s has pledged to raise $50 million within a 10-year period nationally. They are at $47 million currently according to corporate statements.

According to Chili’s associate Shylyn Watson, “[Chili’s] wanted to help St. Jude’s…so they made it a national thing.”

Featured were door prizes, raffles, music, kid’s games, face-painting and awards for the car show. The general response to the event, accompanied by a live band, was enthusiastic.

Indoors at the event, Natalie Rakestraw and Mike Schnoor provided adult libations with friendly aplomb. The drinks are always two-for-one. The overall mood was rather festive.

Outdoors, Chili’s associates Amanda Root and Samantha Perez delighted the children in attendance with their face-painting artistry. Root visibly joined in the fun. Batman was a favorite among the boys.

James Watson, no direct relation to Shylyn, has assisted other charitable groups, including playing  Santa Claus using a ’57 Chevy as his sleigh at one event. He also has hand–built, eco–responsible racing vehicles. These run on renewable fuel. He featured one such vehicle at this event.

When asked what he called his entry in the show, Watson said, “We called her Betsy.”

Check community listings for upcoming events.


St. Jude was founded by actor and comedian Danny Thomas, star of the popular 50–60’s sitcom “Make Room for Daddy”. The organization focuses on treatment and research in the field of “catastrophic diseases” of children. Last year, St. Jude’s “Thanks and Giving” campaign raised more than $64 million to find cures for cancer and other children’s diseases.

St. Jude’s mission states, “…no child is denied treatment based on race, religion or a family’s ability to pay.”

In addition to Chili’s and James Watson’s efforts, there are many ways to assist in St. Jude’s mission. Cash donations are always welcome. Those able to contribute in more unique ways are encouraged to do so.

Chili’s is located at 11290 SW 93 Ct. Rd. in Ocala, Fla. They are a flagship and training store of the national chain. Please contact Mathew Nowlin, their general manager, if you are interested in assisting with future charity events.