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Mansfield's Rylea Fields Helped Chili's Raise Money Yet Again for Pediatric Cancer Patients

Mar 06, 2016 03:23PM ● By Kevin
Mansfield's young philanthropist Rylea Fields helped the local Chili's fundraise for the St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital Drive by donating her "Rylea's Ribbons" late last year. The drive benefits children with pediatric cancer each year. The 2015 campaign raised more than $4,000.

Fields has helped the restaurant raise money for the cause for the past three years.

"This year I made over 500 hair bows and hair ties and I pray they will sell them all (100% of the proceeds go to St. Jude)," Fields said back in August. "I am not affiliated with Chili's or St. Jude's but I do care about helping those with cancer, especially kids."

The drive ended on Sept. 14, just prior to the St. Jude's walk in Dallas on Sept. 19. Fields was excited about the opportunity to contribute to the campaign again. Her passion came from the experience of getting to know a local boy who survived pediatric cancer a few years ago.

"Three years ago our Chili's raised $12,000 dollars," she said. "It was my first year to help and he is one of the reasons that I am so passionate. He was so positive. He told of how St. Jude saved his life. Just made it so real for me and was even younger than me. He told of how St. Jude families do not pay a cent because of donations. So I those who need it most - kids with cancer. I truly thank everyone who has donated already."

Rylea's mother is a counselor at Legacy High School. She also helps raise money in the fight against cancer. Rylea's main contact at Chili's, restaurant manager Austi Knox, caught up with Mansfield Magazine to discuss the drive late last year. 
Layne Nicolle, a Mansfield resident. Her mother, Kelly, is a teacher at Mary Orr Elementary. She took a picture of Layne at Chili's buying Rylea's Ribbons to support St. Jude's.

About the St. Jude’s Walk 

Knox: Last year was the first time they did it country-wide. It’s the St. Jude Gives Thanks Walk. Basically, we all come together. Last year we got to go. It was awesome. We had patients and families speak about their experiences. It was a 5k. There are people from different companies ... there's food out there ... it was just a good time. We had options to link to our social media accounts to get donations for that too. That was a lot of fun. They’re doing the same thing this year in Dallas at the American Airlines Center. Last year, it was in Fort Worth at a park.

About this year's fundraiser

Knox: We started with the Create a Pepper campaign in August. The company gave us T-shirts and sunglasses to sell. We have a server, Lisa Point, who’s very crafty and she makes jewelry and we’ve been selling that as well. Rylea donated so many bows to us and we’ve been selling them like crazy too. Since august we’ve raised $4,281. The drive ends today.

After today, because today is Donate the Profits Day, we have a campaign running through the end of November to December. That’s not driven by external sales. It’s just driven by donations. We have a give back event where people bring in a flyer, we donate 20 percent of the sales of that day on Super Bowl Sunday. This campaign is the big one where we do whatever we want to bring in money.

Chili's has its own wing at St. Jude's. (Chili's) has been doing it for I believe 10 years this year. They made a $50 million promise for 10 years, and we ended up hitting it in 8 years. Now we’re just keeping it going.

You made history three years ago with more than $12,000 in donations. Talk about that.

Knox: Our general manager (Bruce English) donated $1,000 to Lisa to go get all the products to make the jewelry. We finished at $14,880. That year we sold jewelry like crazy. That was a lot of fun. Everyone put their hearts into it. We have a lot of new team members this time around that don’t know St. Jude's, so it’s a lot of education and effort to let them know why we do what we do. That year, they were all in competition with each other to see who could donate more.

It's nice to have Rylea’s Ribbons to help, too, right?

Knox: They were just guests in the restaurant (when she first got involved). They saw people were selling jewelry. They called me over and told me about what they do. They wanted to see if they could sell the bows they do. They sold those and the campaign was over. Last year they started early and we sold those. This year has been crazy. They brought 500 bows, and they even had a campaign board and everything. We’ve been blessed with that because those bows have generated so much money. We just do them by donations.

Last thoughts

Knox: We have a very strong passion for raising money for the kids at St. Jude. We think it’s awesome the families don’t have to pay for anyting including their stays. I love doing it every year.

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In addition to her community service, Rylea is an honor student, gymnast at Aerials Gymnastics, softball player and member of Rush Creek Christian Church. Read More » 


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