Virtual Fundraising Works for Chi Chi Miguel Throwdown to Help Area Charities

April 30, 2020

In early April, Mike and Valerie Thompson, the founders of the Chi Chi Miguel Throwdown, along with the Emeril Lagasse Foundation (ELF), made the difficult decision to cancel the 2020 Chi Chi Miguel Weekend in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. For 13 years, the Chi Chi events have supported charities along the Gulf Coast, including the Emerald Coast Children’s Advocacy Center. (ECCAC)

So, on April 4th, the organizers continued their efforts online on Facebook for their first virtual Throwdown and Online Auction successfully raising over $250,000. ECCAC received $25,104 of the funds raised. Nearly 100 posts, images and videos were shared on the virtual event page by attendees, all showing their support for the cause.

Founded in 2006 by Valerie and Mike “Chi Chi Miguel” Thompson as a small backyard barbeque competition, the Throwdown Benefit Auction & BBQ has since expanded to a three-day, star-studded event and one of the most successful fundraisers along the Emerald Coast. For the past three years, the ELF staff has organized and implemented the events.

Emeril Lagasse Foundation, Chi Chi Miguel, Chi Chi Miguel Throwdown, Emeril Lagasse

The Thompsons were pleased with how well things went with the virtual undertaking. Mike Thompson, who has served on the ECCAC board for many years and serves on the ELF board, commented, “We are so gratified with how the community came forth to help with our virtual event that benefited 8 area charities. ECCAC has been a beneficiary for all of the years of Chi Chi. It feels so right that the Chi Chi events have been able to benefit the children ECCAC serves at no cost who are experiencing abuse, abandonment and neglect right here in Walton and Okaloosa Counties.”

Brian Kish, the president of ELF, concluded, “It was so heartening to see the outpouring of support during our first ever virtual fundraising event. It was an opportunity not only to fundraise and bring awareness for the worthy causes supported by the Chi Chi event, but also it united and lifted each other up at a time when we all needed a little extra positive energy.”

For further information about the Emerald Coast Children’s Advocacy Centers, visit If abuse is suspected, call the anonymous Florida Abuse Hotline at 1-800-96-ABUSE.

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