Who says grilling has to be a summer activity? Barbecue is good any time of the year, and at an event next week, meat-lovers won't even have to do the hard part. Just show up, eat barbecue and, as an added bonus, support a worthy cause.
The second annual Grillin' & Brewin' will be held at Temblor Brewing Co. on Nov. 9, with a barbecue dinner, drinks and entertainment, all benefitting JJ's Legacy, a local nonprofit that raises awareness for organ and tissue donation and offers support to donor and recipient families.
"Come have fun with friends," said Lori Malkin, founder of JJ's Legacy. "It will be a great Thursday evening."
The barbecue will be provided by the Ridge Route Boys, a local award-winning Kansas City Barbeque Society team led by Curtis Trigueiro. The team was previously involved with an earlier iteration of the fundraiser, when it was Bakersfield's Biggest Baddest BBQ competition from 2011 to 2015.
"We kind of simplified things a bit, but we'll still have great barbecue," Malkin said.
Admission to the event includes two drink tickets, which means guests can also enjoy some Temblor beer in addition to the brew-pub's "really fun" atmosphere.
On the entertainment front is The Kelly Twins, well known around town for their regular dueling pianos performances at The Mark. But Malkin said she booked the duo eight months ago, before they had such a huge following. She had enjoyed a dueling pianos show out of town and thought it would be a great fit for the event. Her prescience is sure to pay off.
"What's so special is all of their messaging is going to be about being an organ donor," Malkin said, speaking of the times the pianists will talk between songs. "They're really working with us."
The Kelly Twins are also donating their tips to JJ's Legacy.
While the evening is sure to be a fun time for all, the reason for the event won't be forgotten.
"The most important thing is to inspire and bring awareness to the need, importance and value of being a registered donor," Malkin said.
Malkin founded JJ's Legacy after the death of her son, Jeffrey “JJ” Johns, in 2009. When his parents decided to donate their son's organs, five people in need received a life-saving gift, and 50 more were helped with tissue donation. Since then, Malkin has made it her mission to encourage people to register as tissue and organ donors and support donor and recipient families.
"I'm a donor mother, and when I had time to spend with other donor families, it was one of the most moving and compelling journeys that I have had since I lost my son," she said.
With fundraisers like Grillin' and Brewin' and the annual Gala & Golf Tournament in March, JJ's Legacy is able to hold educational programs, give grants to recipients for medical costs and help families participate in the Donate Life float at the annual Rose Parade, with rose dedications and, for one local donor, a floragraph — an image made with organic materials like herbs, spices and coffee — on the float. Most recently, JJ's Legacy chose to honor Glen Patrick Haenelt with a floragraph, which will be one of 16 on the float next year.
Malkin said she doesn't know how many people have registered to become organ donors thanks to JJ's Legacy, but she imagines it's quite a few.
"It's hard to measure but we know it's working," she said. "Kern County's donation rate is higher than it has been in the past."
For those who are moved to register as a donor at the fundraiser, JJ's Legacy can help them do so right then and there.