Stillwater’s annual “Best Burger in the Valley” contest is a great way to hang out with family and friends while enjoying burgers from local restaurants.
It’s also helping to change lives.
Libby is 6 years old. Nine days after her birth, she was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis, a life-threatening genetic disease that primarily affects the lungs and digestive system.
“She was very sick from the get go,” Libby’s mother Lisa Horowicki said. “Immediately, we found ourselves navigating the waters of Cystic Fibrosis — learning how to care for our daughter.”
Libby takes more than 1,000 pills every month. On a healthy day, she spends 1-2 hours doing therapy, and she’s on an eating tube for 10 hours each day.
One day soon, Lisa hopes researchers will develop a life-changing pill that will minimize the burden of care, and maximize the quality of life, for those living with Cystic Fibrosis.
More than 90 percent of the money raised for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation goes toward research for a cure. Through research and medical advancements, the life expectancy of a child born with cystic fibrosis has been lengthened from 22 years to now nearly 40 years.
Since Libby was born 6 years ago, Lisa said her daughter’s life expectancy has been increased by a year.
“By the time Libby is 10, I am confident there will be a pill that will help manage Cystic Fibrosis similar to how diabetics manage their health with insulin,” Lisa said. “Every bit of awareness and funding in the fight against Cystic Fibrosis makes a difference.”
So after their daughter’s diagnosis, Lisa and Marc Horowicki approached their family friends, Cory and Naashom Buettner, to see if they would be willing to donate ice cream — and host an after-party — to help raise funds following the annual Cystic Fibrosis Walk.
“After talking to the Horowickis, we brainstormed ideas and came up with this burger contest instead,” Leo’s owner Cory Buettner said. “Our neighboring businesses stepped up including Brine’s, Smalley’s and Water Street Inn, who have been involved since day one. No parent should have the dread of outliving their child — and that is what drives this cause.”
As it turns out, the best diet for people with Cystic Fibrosis is high in fat, high in proteins and high in sodium.
“So the idea of a burger contest was just ironic,” Lisa said. “Given the awareness and education portion of the CFF’s mission, it worked out really well.”
To date, the “Best Burger in the Valley” contest has raised than $57,500 to help raise awareness and funding for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. If cards sell out this year, that amount will jump to more than $77,000.
This year’s participating restaurants include: Leo’s, The Water Street Inn, Brine’s, Smalley’s, LOLO, Nacho Mama’s, The Grand, Rafters and Pub 112.
Best Burger in the Valley cards are being sold at all participating restaurants.
“I never imagined how big this event would become,” Lisa said. “Every year, people are all about it. Asking me what restaurants are participating and when the cards will go on sale. It’s a great winter event.”
There are others living with Cystic Fibrosis in the valley, and this is a great way to put a name and a face to Cystic Fibrosis — and recognize everyone who is living with it, Lisa said.
“It’s amazing how this event continues to grow and develop,” she said. “I am very grateful to the people of the river valley who continue to rally as a community to raise awareness and funding to support this cause.”
Every year, the Horowickis enjoy getting together with friends and family to participate in the burger contest.
“We take photos, and make a point to thank the restaurant owners and managers and introduce them to Libby,” Lisa said. “It’s a great cause, and it really does make a difference in the lives of people with Cystic Fibrosis.”
This year, cards cost $40 and will get you a burger at 9 restaurants in downtown Stillwater on Monday through Thursday.
The contest runs through March, and then participants vote for their favorite burger using the ballot number on the back of the card. Voting ends April 15, 2015. The winning restaurant will be announced in late April.
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