By Kristin Burns
At Baylor, it’s not uncommon to see students careening down a street on top of a hospital bed while dressed in bizarre costumes.
The annual Chili Cook-Off and Bed Races is coming to campus for the 18th year at 5 p.m. Friday on Fountain Mall and Fifth Street.
Chi Omega and Alpha Tau Omega, have partnered together for the past nine years to make the event a tradition. ATO puts on the Bed Races, while Chi-O is heading up the Chili Cook-Off.
“Bed Races is a test of physical strength, a costume contest and a NASCAR event all in one,” said Woodinville, Wash., junior Gannon McCahill, one of the two ATO chairs for the event. “Hospital beds are raced down Fifth Street with teams of five and roaring fans.”
ATO and Chi-O also partner with Baylor Activities Council to help with the logistics of planning such a large event.
“I think BAC is the expert,” said Erin Ellis, graduate apprentice for campus programs and adviser to BAC. “They’re the ones who know all the little things that sometimes aren’t thought about. If anyone has questions, BAC has an answer.”
Students can create teams of five to compete in the Bed Races or create a team to make homemade chili for competition.
“We have the regular portion of $5 all-you-can-eat chili,” said Longview senior Conlan Northcutt, the philanthropy chair for Chi Omega. “We have the competition portion where we have teams of students from all over campus make chili and compete for cash prizes and awards.”
All proceeds from the event are going to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, which is Chi O’s national philanthropy. Each year at Chili Cook-Off, they sponsor a child in the Waco area and raise money to grant a wish.
This year, the event will be held in honor of Jace Andrews, who is the son of a Baylor Chi Omega alum. The goal is to raise $40,000 this year, McCahill said.
Ellis said she loved the “goofiness” of “people in costumes racing hospital beds down the street in the middle of campus.”
Austin junior Chad Perkins, the second chair from ATO, said he enjoyed working on the event and being creative to make it bigger than it’s been in past years.
ATO is shooting for 100 teams to sign up for Bed Races this year.
“Efficiency is definitely something we have to work on,” Perkins said.
All teams who enter Bed Races will be eligible to be in a drawing for a free iPad, McCahill said. Cash prizes will be awarded to first, second and third places in both the girls’ and guys’ brackets, Perkins said.
“Every year the event continues to build a reputation,” Ellis said. “I think that’s a really important part. Every year that it comes back, more people get involved.”
Students can sign up for both the Chili Cook-Off and Bed Races online on the Student Activities website or at the T-shirt booths from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. this week in the dining halls.
Chili Cook-Off and Bed Races is one of the largest philanthropic events on campus, and the organizations only want to make it bigger, Perkins said.
If it’s raining, the event will move into the Bill Daniel Student Center, Northcutt said.
“I hope there’s a good turnout,” Ellis said. “I hope they get several chili entries. I hope they have several teams sign up. Weather is a big thing that keeps people from coming out.”
Rain or shine, the event will offer Baylor students a night of hospital bed racing, homemade chili, games and more.
“I love that it is an on-campus event,” Northcutt said. “It’s a very established, on-campus tradition. Everyone enjoys it. It’s for a fantastic cause. Bed Races is absolutely one of the most entertaining things that you can watch on a Friday evening.”