Cookin for Kids

Hopkins County YMCA CEO Chad Hart, left, and Madisonville Rotarian Danny Koeber prep for Saturday’s inaugural Cookin’ for Kids fundraiser while in the Y’s breakroom Thursday morning.

Sometimes you have to take a leap of faith for something to be successful. And that’s what has happened with this year’s inaugural Cookin’ for Kids fundraiser event, which will feature 40 local “celebrity” chefs.

“We had no idea how the community would respond. We had to sell a vision, an idea, to the community,” said Chad Hart, Hopkins County YMCA CEO. “We had no idea how it would be perceived because it just hasn’t been done in Hopkins County before.”

This Saturday at the Ballard Center, the YMCA and the Madisonville Rotary Club, along with the events sole sponsor, Fifth Third Bank, are hosting a sold-out fundraiser to benefit both organizations’ programming. So far, the event is nearing its tips donation goal of $20,000.

“Madisonville Rotary Club and YMCA are splitting the funds. It’s going to help programs that both entities run — like Rotary football, Rotary Cheer and their scholarship program,” said Hart. “Of course with YMCA, we have youth basketball, youth t-ball, youth soccer, preschool, after school, summer camp and memberships. You know the Y, it’s a little bit of everything.”

As the 40 chefs prepare for Saturday, they have been asked to create 75 to 1,000 samples. Hart said, at minimum, there will be 4,000 and at maximum 5,000 to 7,000 items for participants to enjoy.

“We’re already arranging for leftovers to make sure those are donated to causes, so the food doesn’t go to waste,” he said.

Even though the event sold-out earlier in the month, funds are still being raised by each chef. The cooks have been asked to raise a minimum of $500 each. During the Cookin’ for Kids event, people online and in the crowd will have an opportunity to tip the chefs until 8 p.m. Saturday.

At that point, Hart said they will shut down online tipping and collect the physical tips at each chef’s station to see which chef has raised the most money. The chef who receives the most tips will be awarded the “coveted golden spatula” award.

“The spatula has created quite a competition among the chefs,” he said. “Right now, our top chef has already earned $1,975 in tips.”

Another way the organizations will raise money during the event is through a live auction, which will feature over $11,000 in items.

Hart said this event wouldn’t be possible without all of the volunteers who have helped to create this new experience.

“This event would not happen without my volunteers, the Rotary Club, YMCA staff and board members,” he said. “They just wrapped their arms around this and are all into this event. This took numerous hands to get this accomplished.”

If you would like to donate to one of the 40 chefs, there are a few ways to do so. One way is if you see your favorite chef sharing a picture on social media, you can click the link on their post to donate. Another way to give is from your mobile device, go to, scroll down to where it says donate now, and you can pick your chef there.

The event starts at 6:30 p.m. and is expected to last until 9:30 p.m.

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