From the Heart – April 2022

Apr 27, 2022 | Newsletters

From the Heart

April 2022

Message from the Co-Founders

Volunteers are the heart and soul of Operation BBQ Relief. Operation BBQ Relief sends our gratitude to over 14,000 volunteers who have helped serve the one hot meal that matters.  We continued to be inspired by the commitment and efforts of our volunteers across the country.

WGN Radio host and Operation BBQ Relief supporter Dane Neal recently hosted the virtual 2021 Volunteer Awards and Recognition on Facebook.  We are honored to highlight all of the award recipients along with their contributions to Operation BBQ Relief.

April has been a busy month. The Always Serving Project hosted two BBQ Basics in Fayetteville, NC and Kingsport, TN that served veterans and first responders.  The Disaster Response Team regularly monitors severe weather and communicates with emergency management to determine community needs. 

We look forward to celebrating the 2nd Annual Celebrity BBQ Academy and Golf Classic in Kansas City on May 23, 2022!  We are currently collecting donations for the silent auction. We invite you to review our Amazon Wishlist below to contribute to the auction. We also will be hosting the Ribbon Cutting for Camp OBR on the Lake of the Ozarks. Click the link below to RSVP.

Thank you for the continued support of Operation BBQ Relief.

Much respect,

Stan Hays, CEO
Will Cleaver, CPO and Head of Finance

2021 Volunteer Awards

Operation BBQ Relief announced the following Volunteer Award Recipients for their efforts throughout 2021:

The Rod Cramer Volunteer of the Year: Louis Pratt
The Heart Award: Scott Guy
The Motivational Award: Tom Barowsky
The Road Warrior Award: Steven Campbell
The Quecomer Award: Calsey “CC” Cross
The Innovation Award: KC Warehouse Team
The Behind the Heart Award: Mike “Jet Blue” Schweerian
The Grassroots Award: Mike and Elaine Moore
The Leadership Award: Jason Perrigin

Read about the amazing accomplishments of the 2021 Volunteer Award Recipients.

Rod Cramer Volunteer of the Year Award

Congratulations to Louis Pratt, Operation BBQ Relief’s 2021 Rod Cramer Volunteer of the Year! One of the most humble volunteers to ever grace Operation BBQ Relief and someone who would probably tell you how others deserve this award more, Louis is truly an amazing volunteer and liked by everyone. It’s no coincidence that Louis was helping with BBQ Basics in Fayetteville, NC when he received the news of being the 2021 Rod Cramer Volunteer of the Year! Whether it’s coordinating numerous non-disaster events in The Always Serving Project or doing any task on deployment from cooking to cleaning to helping the camp chef, Louis is always there working hard.  He’s quickly become a volunteer leader in the organization and a vital part of disaster deployments. He’s taken on and excelled at the daunting role of Site Lead on numerous occasions now.  He has not only helped improve the role, but his efforts set the bar for others.  Rarely will you find him tucked away in a corner on a deployment; that’s not his style. He’s the type of leader out there in the trenches getting his hands dirty while still effectively leading the entire team.  And he does it all with a smile, a kind word, and an unwavering dedication to excellence all the while without any expectation of acknowledgement.  Thank you, Louis, for your unparalleled efforts and service.  Operation BBQ Relief is proud to call you the 2021 Rod Cramer Volunteer of the Year!

The Rod Cramer Volunteer of the Year Award is presented to an individual who exemplifies volunteerism and is recognized for their outstanding contributions to Operation BBQ Relief. Rod Cramer was one of the nicest guys in competition BBQ. He was always so positive and everyone’s biggest cheerleader. Rod was one of the first volunteers to arrive in Joplin nearly 10 years ago, and through Rod, Operation BBQ Relief received the first corporate gift after becoming a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Rod stayed engaged up to the very end when he lost his battle to leukemia. This award was named after Rod because of the heart, work ethic, friendship, and respect he embodied. These are key traits of the 2021 Volunteer of the Year Louis Pratt!

Disaster Response Team

Operation BBQ Relief thanked the first responders who helped with the wildfires in Pigeon Forge, TN.  First responders from over 70 agencies assisted in the firefight.  A delicious BBQ meal cooked by Operation BBQ Relief champion pitmasters is more than just sustenance for the brave first responders and utility workers.  BBQ meals provided comfort, hope, camaraderie, and the energy to fight on the frontlines.

The Always Serving Project®

“The first BBQ Basics of 2022 was a huge success! We had a great team that worked well together and an AMAZING group of veterans participating in BBQ Basics. We were also able to feed the homeless community and the staff on shift at the VA in Fayetteville, NC. The event participants ranged from individuals expanding their BBQ knowledge base to participants learning BBQ skills for the very first time. We had BBQ Basics teams that have decided to continue to work together and participate in local BBQ competitions. We had multiple new volunteer sign-ups with Operation BBQ Relief and also a renewed passion for barbecue and Operation BBQ Relief with our volunteers. This event was the perfect example of the healing power of BBQ.”

-Donnie Paul
Program Manager

Amazon Wish List

Help Operation BBQ Relief raise funds by purchasing items from our wishlist. The items will go into a silent auction at the Celebrity BBQ Academy and Golf Classic on May 23, 2022.
Thank you for your support!


Help share the healing power of BBQ! Make new friends! Register to volunteer on the Operation BBQ Relief App or sign-up at

Corporate Supporters



Join the #iamOBR movement with a tax deductible monthly contribution where you can select donation options to help support Operation BBQ Relief.


Operation BBQ Relief relies solely on volunteers like you. Whether you are a competition BBQ team, caterer, restaurateur or simply an individual or group wanting to help when disaster strikes, we want you to be a part of this rewarding experience in helping people.