There’s no “i” in “team” -- or “BBQ”
The evolution and growth of Hogs for the Cause is dictated by what Louapre and Hall call the event’s number one asset: the teams. 80% of these teams are from the local Southeast Louisiana area. Together, they try out new approaches every year and collaborate with Hogs leadership to implement what works best. The motley crew of teams continues to expand, from 27 in 2010 to 92 competitors this year.
Hog Dat Nation is the team that Ben Sarrat Sr. founded and exemplifies the strength of the communal bond at the center of Hogs. Other members include New Orleans BBQ pitmaster Neil McClure, owner of McClure’s BBQ, and BBQ enthusiast and community member Trey Nobles, who took over as captain in 2017.
In addition to working alongside Sarrat Sr. in the competition, Nobles attended the funeral of Ben Sarrat Jr., the son of his friend and teammate, and the original inspiration for Hogs for the Cause. That community support forged over a smoky pit came full circle when Nobles’ daughter, Margaux, was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, which manifested as a cancerous mass in her head.
Nobles, based on witnessing the kids and families who’d received grants during the time he’d been involved with Hogs for the Cause as a team member, declined to apply for a grant himself -- all he could see was other families that needed the support more. However, Sarrat filled out an application form for the Nobles family himself: it was time for Hogs to return the support to Nobles that he’d given for years.
After a year of treatment for Margaux’s neuroblastoma, doctors were stunned to find that her tumor had disappeared completely. Now, Nobles continues the work to help those who aren’t as fortunate.
“We got so lucky,” he says. “I don’t know why it was us and not another family. But now it’s only fair to help as many people get as lucky as we were. I got to keep my daughter - I want to work so that everyone else get to keep theirs.”
Margaux and the celebration of her life is closely connected to the event in another way. She was actually born the day after Hogs for the Cause in 2011 (which Nobles participated in, keeping his cell phone close by). Since her birthday falls on or near Hogs weekend every year, she now likes to think of the event as a giant birthday party just for her.
McClure jokes that everyone wants to beat Team Fleur de Que, the top fundraising team for five years running. In 2017, they won easily with a total of $225,000. Team captain Andrew Herrington says that they’d love it if someone would beat them, “because that means someone else raised a ton of money for this cause.” Fleur de Que has created its own 501(c)3 and raises money for Hogs and other causes they believe in all year round.
“It’s a competition with a singular goal among all the teams,” Herrington says.
Chris Puckett, the captain of The Boar’s Nest, received a place in the Hogs Hall of Fame for his team’s consistent fundraising and says more than 35 teammates work all year planning for Hogs weekend. Everyone’s divided into committees and the work is delegated with military precision. Not only did their efforts net more than $160,000 for the cause, they must’ve had a good time doing it because they took home Best Friday Night Party this year.