This morning, local caterer Jamie Westendorff is leaving for Rincon, Ga., to cook for a Muscular Dystrophy Association camp. Afterward, he's heading to Summerton to do the same thing for Camp Happy Days.
That kind of giving spirit leaves a lasting impression on others. In Westendorff's case, the evidence comes in the form of more than $75,000 raised during a June 17 benefit at Boone Hall Plantation.
A check presented to him Tuesday will go toward medical expenses that piled up after Westendorff was seriously burned on his head, face and hands in a cooking accident in early May. Westendorff had to be airlifted to Joseph M. Still Burn Center in Augusta, a helicopter ride that costs nearly $50,000 alone.
Friends and colleagues in the Charleston restaurant community organized the fundraiser, which involved about 25 restaurants, students from the Culinary Institute of Charleston and a number of food purveyors.
"We were expecting about 600 people and about 1,300 showed up," said Kathy Britzius, director of the Greater Charleston Restaurant Association. "It was just amazing."
Westendorff said Tuesday he is humbled by the support. When he was shown a list of contributors, it was pages long.
"I almost wept. There were names I had been associated with 20 and 30 years ago," he said. "Of course, I'm flattered. If only half as many people come to my funeral I'll be sorry I missed that. Everybody got a share of the good feeling when they left."
Teresa Taylor is the food editor. Reach her at email@example.com.