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Columbia College students win bronze at Rootin' Tootin' Chili Cookoff

A team of five Columbia College students and the college's student activities director placed third in the Chili Champion portion of the fifth annual Rootin' Tootin' Chili Cookoff, held in February to benefit the Boys & Girls Club of Columbia. The team also won a $200 gift certificate from Wal-Mart, which they donated back to Boys and Girls Club.

Team member Caley Boyer, whose mother's chili recipe got the thumbs-up from a panel of 10 local chefs acting as judges, said, "The win was a huge surprise! We just wanted to go in and have a good time while doing something for a good cause."

Boys & Girls Club of Columbia operates an after-school program literally around the corner from Columbia College on Faye Street for 120 at-risk youth. All chili cookoff proceeds go to the programs and to offset operating costs.

Valorie Livingston, the club's executive director, said 53 teams competed in four categories this year, and that the event raised $43,000, a dramatic increase from last year's $32,000. Livingston said that Boys & Girls Club has two fundraisers each year, the chili cookoff and a wine tasting and auction in August, but "Rootin' Tootin' is by far the most community-friendly fundraiser. Everyone is relaxed and has a good time," she said.

The Columbia College team consisted of:

* Brittani Alexander, a biology major from Oak Grove, Mo.

* Caley Boyer, a business administration major from Hillsboro, Mo.

* Courtney Clawson, a psychology major from Saint Peters, Mo.

* Danielle Hart, a management major from Columbia, Mo.

* Stephanie Mottaz, a human services major from Hallsville, Mo.

* Elizabeth Ball, Columbia College director of student activities.

A team of Columbia College students also competed last year but did not win.

Boyer said the Columbia College team tripled ingredients in her mother's recipe and canvassed the Holiday Inn Expo Center to lure attendees to their booth. "Once the doors were open, we went through about five gallons of chili within about an hour," she said. "It was hard to keep up with the demand!"

Columbia College, a private, nonprofit institution founded in 1851 in Columbia, Mo., educates more than 27,000 students each year and has more than 64,000 alumni worldwide. For more information, visit


(Contact: Joanne Tedesco, 573-875-7207,