Can you remember what you were doing at 19 years old?

By Samantha Hartley

For Johnny Hunt, the most vivid memory is barbecuing in his backyard with his friends and collecting money in a fishbowl for the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO).

Collecting money for charity isn’t the average activity for a 19-year old, but for Johhny, this sporadic activity on a weekend afternoon was the beginning of one of the most successful fundraisers in Ottawa, the CHEO BBQ.

Johnny Hunt & Tim Tierney
Johnny Hunt & Tim Tierney (Beacon Hill/Cyrville Councillor) at last year's CHEO BBQ

After 20 years, Johnny’s small fundraiser with a handful of friends has grown into a 1,000-person volleyball and frisbee tournament with over 200 volunteers and more than $365,000 raised for CHEO.

Not bad for a backyard bash.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the CHEO BBQ and if that couldn’t be a big enough accomplishment, Johnny’s fishbowl traveled from his BBQ roots to create five sister events raising another $55,000 for CHEO.

Eight years ago Johnny started a curling tournament called the CHEO Speil, then two years later started a golf tournament called the CHEO Open, and then in recent years started a go-kart tournament called the CHEO 100, a fishing tournament called the CHEO Derby and a Monopoly board game tournament called the Monopoloff.

From the curling rink to the race track, there’s no limit to what Johnny will do for CHEO and there’s nothing that can stop him.

With every outdoor event comes a risk, especially when Mother Nature is involved. Johnny has faced tornadoes, drastic temperatures, mud fests and heat strokes, but what helps him conquer is by telling himself “it’s for CHEO.”

If Mother Nature wasn’t a big enough challenge, imagine what it was like to promote, market and recruit players and volunteers through word-of-mouth, with a landline phone and a fax machine. Johnny walked the streets, knocked on doors and became friends with everyone in his path. He was determined to succeed.

Now, with his co-founder Mike Machargo in-tow, over 200 volunteers, mobile technology and social media at his grasp, Johnny Hunt is a fundraising success.

On behalf of his co-founder Mike Machargo and his friends, family and volunteers, we’d like to thank Johnny for his leadership, motivation and his continuing support for the Ottawa community.

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