NEW ORLEANS -- We're only days away from the annual salute to the hog as Hogs for the Cause marks a big birthday and a big milestone.
Hogs for the Cause started 10 years ago as a barbecue party among friends. It quickly morphed into a cause -- raising money for families dealing with pediatric brain cancer -- by trying to help the family of young Ben Sarrat, Jr., who was battling brain cancer.
The child passed away in 2010, but his parents have remained involved in helping other families.
"I don't think that we ever thought that 10 years ago that we'd be in the position that we are now," said Hogs for the Cause Co-founder Becker Hall. "This is obviously a memorial year for us. It's also a record breaking year for us, as most years are. We're really excited on the cause that this year we've actually given out $1 million in grants and $1 million in charitable giving."
For Ben Sarrat, Jr.'s parents, it's a fitting tribute for their little boy.
"It's more than we could have ever asked for, and nothing we ever did ask for," Erin Sarrat says. "It's just organically grown out of the kind of spirit that he had and the people who we've met through it. I count the people on the different Hogs teams and the Hogs organization among some of my best friends in the world now."
This year, Hogs is back on their new turf, the grounds of UNO Lakefront Arena, with more than 85 teams, Bacon Night on Friday, 21 bands, and even a new craft beer tent.
But make no mistake, the cause of Hogs is year-round, and the attempt to help families is ongoing.
"Hogs covers anything. It's anything and everything. We've had families that need their washer and dryer fixed, and they need help with it. This year we launched another initiative with some families that were really down on their luck at Christmas, and we helped them pay their rent. My wife and I and some packed up her car with toys and presents 2 families in Lake Charles that we'd helped out," Ben Sarrat, Sr., says.
Hogs for the Cause is Friday and Saturday (March 23 and 24) on the grounds of UNO Lakefront Arena. Click here for more information.