Jerry Morris has been utilizing his cooking and smoking skills for the past 22 years to raise thousands of dollars in donations for Trinity High School. For the past nine, Morris has been using the money donated to the Angels for Ashley fund to purchase the necessary cooking supplies to help families and causes throughout Owensboro and Daviess County.
On Saturday afternoon, Morris once again put his skills into practice to assist a local organization, in turn strengthening the community. Although Morris was not present, he ensured all of the meat was cooked, wrapped and packed in coolers in time for pick up.
Over 220 pre-order tickets were sold for Boston butts and ribs to benefit the Green River Area Down Syndrome Association. Morris made far more than that in the hopes that passersby would stop to make a purchase or order a boxed lunch for $5.
GRADSA Executive Director Tiffany Thrash said Morris made the experience effortless as well as beneficial.
“He’s been wonderful,” Thrash said. “Jerry Morris never disappoints. He cooks all the meat, and then what we sell goes to GRADSA and then what he makes goes to Angels for Ashley. So it’s kind of like a win-win — it goes to two different charities.”
Thrash said GRADSA made over $4,100 in presale tickets, so her goal for the end of the two-hour period was between $5,000 – $6,000. All of the money raised goes to pay for programming for GRADSA families.
“Everything we offer for our families is free,” Thrash said. “So we spend over $30,000 a year in programming. We do get quite a bit in grants, but not enough to necessarily cover all of that. We spend a lot on programming — it’s crazy. It’s insane how fast it adds up.”
Thrash said those funds cover communication class every Wednesday where students are taught sign language and other lessons based on their IEP (Individualized Education Programs), cooking classes, yoga classes, parent’s night out, two dances teams — totaling 30 dancers, as well as a trip with both caregivers to Holiday World and monthly parties.
“We’re also looking to have a building,” Thrash said. “Most of our Buddy Walk proceeds we try to put in for a building. Altogether we raised about $120,000 last year and we had grants as well. We were able to put a lot toward savings — we have about $160,000 right now that we really want to put into a building, but right now we’re working on our Medicaid provider number.”
Currently, Buddy Walk is GRADSA’s biggest yearly fundraiser, but the board recently met to discuss their plans for the newest event coming this fall.
In order to celebrate Down Syndrome Awareness Month in October, GRADSA will be hosting its first annual 5K run. The costume-themed race, “DOWN Right Fun Costume Run” is still in planning stages and not accepting registrants yet.
In the end, it is the families who benefit from all of the efforts of the Angels for Ashley cooking team and GRADSA.
“We just try to really cater to our families and enrich their lives — that’s what our ultimate goal is and it’s all free for them.”