Clearwater’s Jessie’s Wish Fundraiser & BBQ Cook-Off once again raised a record amount to help battered women, with over $25,000 that will be donated to Anna Marie’s Alliance.
Jessie’s Wish was begun after founder Gary Grant’s daughter, Jessica Ludenia, was killed by her abusive boyfriend in 2017. Wanting to help other victims of domestic violence, Grant held the first Jessie’s Wish Benefit the next year, donating the money raised to Anna Marie’s Women’s Shelter.
Held at Sam and Candy Samuelson’s home outside Clearwater earlier this month, people began arriving in the early afternoon and kept on coming, everyone eager to enjoy the wide variety of mouthwatering ribs and other goods, try their chance at winning great prizes, catch up with their friends and neighbors, and just have a good time.
Although it had recently rained, it turned out to be a beautiful day for the fifth annual event. Throughout the afternoon large crowds wandered through the numerous tents to sample each entrant’s ribs and a variety of other goods. This year judges’ choice went to the IDK team with their secret recipe, headed by grill masters Tim Sawatzke and his nephew Devon Foss.
Along with the food, attendees had a chance to win a number of great prizes by purchasing raffle tickets and bidding on silent auction items. All prizes were donated, and included coolers, metal art, grills, a wheelbarrow full of liquor, and a fishing trip with Chuck Gardener. There was also a 50/50 drawing and the always popular chicken bingo (the chicken later escaped into the wild). Live music entertained the crowd later in the day and on hand was award-winning leather artist and saddle maker Mike Bray, who this year brought his vintage boat that he had redone with leather panels throughout.
“Without support like this we couldn’t exist or provide service to so many,” said Lori Eich, director of development and communications at Anna Marie’s Alliance. “It’s the bravest moment when someone walks through our door. I can’t imagine the courage it takes.”
“A standing ovation for all the participation,” said Grant. “It’s amazing how our community really comes together for a great cause.”
He and his family extended special thanks to family members, friends, sponsors, attendees, and the Samuelsons for hosting the event.
“I just want to reach out and extend a HUGE applause to the INCREDIBLE event on Saturday,” Eich said in an email following the event. “You have built such a strong community and it was emulated in the outpour of support at the fundraiser. We really can’t thank you enough for being such incredible advocates of Anna Marie’s Alliance and the programs we provide and work that we do in the field of domestic violence.”
“We are so proud to be recipients of the funds raised from Jessie’s Wish, honoring the incredible woman she was and making a lasting impact on the lives of thousands of victims across our communities. We are honored to be a part of the community you’ve built – and so grateful for the incredible work we can do together.”
Anna Marie’s Alliance is a domestic violence center and private non-profit corporation dedicated to providing safe shelter, support, and referral services for battered women (and men) and their children. They also work with the community on systems change and violence prevention in Central Minnesota.
Anna Marie’s has sheltered nearly 16,500 battered women and their children since 1979. Advocates are available 24/7 by calling 320-253-6900. For more information visit www.AnnaMaries.org.