About 40 of Faulkner County’s own "celebrities" waited tables at US Pizza in downtown Conway Saturday in a benefit for the American Cancer Society.
The restaurant hosted the most successful fundraiser of its kind in the state last year.
Faulkner County’s American Cancer Society staff partner Donna K. Smith said prior to the event organized by Hunter and Esther McClellan, co-owners of the restaurant, the highest amount raised with a Celebrity Waiter event was $7,500.
"It’s really all because of Esther," Smith said. "She has done so much for so many people around here that when it’s time, they’re ready to give back to her. She’s a born leader."
Smith said 100 percent of proceeds would go to ACS to be used for cancer research.
According to Smith, all major breakthroughs in cancer research in the past 35 years have been associated with the group, and "because of fundraisers like this."
A steady stream of customers were being waited on at lunchtime by locals like Tom Courtway, University of Central Arkansas president; AJ Gary, City of Conway police chief; Representative Linda Tyler; city Alderman David Grimes and Justice of the Peace Johnnie Wells.
The event was to carry on throughout the day with a silent auction, games and activities for kids and live music.
Luminaries were purchased in honor or memory of loved ones who fought or lost battles with cancer lined Front Street.
Kellie Wells, wife of Johnnie Wells and representative from Conway Regional Women’s Center was waiting tables Saturday.
"The real reason I am doing this is because I worked with cancer patients for 13 years. I have a passion for people who are going through this," she said. "And of course, I’ve had family and friends who have gone through treatment."
US Pizza co-owner Hunter McClellan said he and his wife, Esther, started the event last year because his mother died from the disease in 2006.
In 2011, Celebrity Waiter raised more than $22,000.
He hoped that the second year would generate even more funds for cancer research.
Before the day of the event, sponsors and donors had already contributed close to $7,000.
Celebrity Waiter is something that will take place in Conway for years to come, McClellan said.
The event doesn’t necessarily have to be held at US Pizza.
There is talk of moving the event to another restaurant next year, "to switch it up, rotate it around," McClellan said.
McClellan said the popular fundraiser shouldn’t be focused at one business over another, and neighboring restaurant owners donated or waited tables Saturday.
"The fact of the matter is, when you talk about cancer, it has effected everyone. It seems like it has had an impact on everyone in one way or another," he said.
(Staff writer Courtney Spradlin can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 505-1236. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to www.thecabin.net. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)