By Richard Whittaker
In 1993, Mike Machargo and Johnny Hunt organized a backyard BBQ during the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) Telethon, passing around a fishbowl to collect donations between 15 friends and by their action, creating the foundation for what is now the CHEO BBQ.
The 20th edition of the CHEO BBQ, took place in Ottawa’s Shefford Park on Saturday, June 9th, with over 1,500 people attending, including 40 sponsors and 200 volunteers. The event featured ultimate Frisbee and beach volleyball tournaments. New this year was a 5km family walk around the streets surrounding the park presented by RBC. The CHEO BBQ, also added a honourary chair for the 20th anniversary, Ottawa’s CTV Morning Live host, Lianne Laing.
The anniversary of the CHEO BBQ also had many surprises for Mike Machargo and Johnny Hunt. First, City of Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson, declared June 9th, 2012, CHEO BBQ Day in Ottawa. Next, Tim Tierney, Ottawa City Council for ward 11 (Beacon Hill-Cyrville), presented Johnny with a United Way Community Builder award. Then Tim Tierney stepped up again to surprise both Mike and Johnny with the naming of the beach volleyball courts at Shefford Park: the CHEO BBQ Courts. Mike and Johnny weren’t without presents of their own, offering a cheque to CHEO in the amount of $50,000 from the 2011 CHEO BBQ. And later announcing that they had surpassed their 2012 goal of $60,000, reaching $65,000.
Participants and visitors were able to enjoy the Wireless Amber Alerts Family Zone and the Bytown Catering barbecue pit, offering a variety of food items including chicken, sausages, veggie kabobs, hamburgers, hot-dogs and a steak dinner.
In the past 20 years, the CHEO BBQ has raised $430,000 for the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario.