Wole Ralph, Chili’s partner for fund-raiser

Clayton County Commission Vice Chairman Wole Ralph put his skills as a politician to the test at Chili’s Restaurant in Morrow, Thursday night.

Ralph went table-to-table, schmoozing with the restaurant’s customers. But he was not there to seek votes for next year’s commission elections. Rather, he was trying to get people to make donations to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, as part of the restaurant chain’s effort to raise $5.8 million for the hospital this year.

“Chili’s contacted me, and told me about their corporate sponsorship with St. Jude, and from what I heard [about] the great things they were doing, I decided to jump in and do everything I could to support it,” Ralph said. “When the private sector is making this kind of investment in the lives of young people, I think — as elected officials — we have a responsibility to do everything we can to support that.”

Ralph’s efforts at the local Chili’s restaurant coincided with the location hosting a game night designed to tie into the effort to raise money for St. Jude.

Stephan George, who oversaw Thursday night’s event as the restaurant’s “hope captain,” said the Chili’s chain made a commitment four years ago to raise $50 million for St. Jude over a 10-year period. He added that the chain has, so far, raised about $35 million toward that goal. “The main reason we’re doing this is to help St. Jude Children’s Hospital fight childhood cancer,” he said.

George also said the Chili’s in Morrow has a goal of raising $10,000 this year for the 2011 corporate goal of $5.8 million. In the first two weeks of this year’s fund-raising period, he added, the local restaurant has raised $3,000. The restaurant will keep raising money until Sept. 28.

Riverdale resident, Tiffany Guillory, said she attended the event with her 16-month-old son, Jordan, because she wanted to help St. Jude. After finishing dancing to Michael Jackson’s song, “Black or White,” for a dancing video game, Guillory pointed out that, if anything happened to her son’s health, it was possible she may have to turn to St. Jude for help.

“If anything was to happen to him, then I know St. Jude would help him out, if he needed it, so I want to come support the kids as much as possible,” she said.