Chili Cookoff Raises Funds for Fire Victim

Nick Lawton
NewsWest 9

ODESSA - Odessa Regional Medical Center employees held their annual chili cookoff on Friday, with the added twist of raising money for one of their own.

The steaming spices in every bowl could be smelled from the door.

Hospital employees call it a time to kick back and enjoy each other's company, while getting a chance to go head-to-head in a battle of the broths.

"My partners, Latino Heat," Cardiovascular Sonographer Gerardo Arzate said as he gestured toward his chili teammates. "Nobody has the hottest but us."

But one jar by the door was a reminder of the tragedy that had fallen on one of their own.

So this year, employees pitched in to lend a helping hand to fellow hospital employee Freddy Acosta and his family, who lost everything when their home burned down earlier this month.

"Not just with Freddy but with any of our employees that have a problem or have any kinds of problems," Arzate said. "Anytime that somebody needs something to help, we all get together and do something."

The bills in the jar piled up and the Acosta family came to thank everyone in person.

"We are very thankful to them. We want to come out and thank everyone personally," Freddy Acosta, said.

The Acostas told NewsWest 9 how blessed they feel, as it was their dog that woke them up the night their house was burning.

Thanks to the canine everyone made it out safely.

"Our dog is actually our hero. He stays with us everywhere we go now. Woke us up just in time to get us out of that house," Acosta said.

And in the midst of good times and good friends, the Acostas said they're not worrying so much about where they're going, they're just thankful for where they are.

"We've gotten very close, a lot closer than ever before because we've realized that all of us could have been dead or somebody in the hospital burnt or something," Acosta said. "Material things can be rebuilt, families can't. Lives can't."