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Barbecue contest winners host 'ultimate' block party

October 5, 2018
As the culmination of a campaign that raised $182,000 last summer largely through USO barbecue fundraisers at 115 area new-car dealerships, a National Guard family in Elgin on Sept. 22 hosted an Ultimate Backyard Barbecue.
The USO Barbecue for the Troops campaign, which was coordinated by the CATA, raised $157,000 at the dealerships, and Turtle Wax donated an additional $25,000. Most barbecues were held July 14.
To spread awareness in advance of the barbecues, the CATA and the USO conducted a social media contest in which the public was encouraged to nominate an individual they deemed worthy of the Ultimate Backyard Barbecue. Nearly 150 nominations rolled in from social media: Wives nominated husbands who served overseas, parents nominated children who are active duty military, and friends nominated deserving friends. 
Ultimately, Christa Oody won the grand prize, having nominated her husband, Sgt. James Oody. In Christa’s submission, she wrote, "Like all service members, James sacrificed so much and carries the burden of war." 
The Oodys’ Ultimate Backyard Barbecue included mouth-watering barbecue fare from Real Urban Barbecue, a special visit from Chicago Blackhawks ambassador Brian Campbell, and a Rookie Racing Experience, compliments of Turtle Wax.
The military family turned the gathering into a block party for their Elgin neighborhood. Elgin VFW Post 1307 added to the festivity with additional food.
James Oody, an auto/diesel technician, joined the Wisconsin Army National Guard shortly after 9/11. Over the years, he has been deployed three times, doing tours in Kuwait for a year, Iraq for a year and Afghanistan for nearly a year.
He opted for the block party because he said he didn’t want to make the barbecue about him, preferring to share it with others.
Tony Guido, the CATA chairman, and other CATA directors and Turtle Wax CEO Denis John Healy presented a ceremonial check to USO of Illinois President Alison Ruble on Aug. 16 at  Clark After Dark, a popular USO street festival dubbed "Summer’s Last Hoo-ah!"
The $182,000 collected from the campaign is helping the USO of Illinois serve more than 325,000 active duty, guard and reserve military and military family members annually through three program areas including USO centers, military family programs and community connection programs.