FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Tracy Jones will be the first Easterseals’ participant to compete in Old National Bank’s Culinary Queens Fundraiser.
“I chose to be a Culinary Art Queen to represent arc,” said Jones. “Not only to represent arc, but to represent those who have a disability.”
Saturday evening, Old National Bank will host its second annual Culinary Queens event. The money raised is used to fund programs for Easterseals Arc, a nonprofit organization that supports people with disabilities by helping them achieve their dreams and goals.
“That can be employment, that can be just getting out and doing more being involved in the community,” said Donna Elbrecht, CEO of Easterseals Arc Northeast Indiana. “That can be providing 24 hour residential support.”
Jones will be one of the many queens that will present her dish to a sold out crowd at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum. Jones said she is competing for a cause.
“I just want to express to people, that just because you have disabilities or just because you might be a little slower than some people,” said Jones. “It’s not the end of the world. You can achieve your goals and you can be whatever you want to be, and I believe that with all of my heart.”
The queen with the most tip money in her jar at the end of the night will take home the crown and bragging rights as the 2019-2020 Culinary queen.
For it’s inaugural year, the Culinary Queens event raised over $200,000 for Easterseals Arc.
“We were so blessed that Old National Bank chose us, the funds from last year were used for a lot of opportunities,” said Elbrecht. “From having people go to concerts and sporting events, to helping people be able to have resources to explore different job opportunities.”
Jones is currently enrolled in Easterseals Arc’s transition program, which aids its participants find jobs once they finish school. The program focuses on helping them learn how to get around the community safe and become more independent.
“I recommend it to anyone,” said Jones. “The supervisors and staff are wonderful, they meet your needs according to you and not what your disability is.”
WANE 15’s Alyssa Iverson will MC the event and WANE 15’s Tracie Martin and sous chef, Briana Brownlee are also participating.