By Donna Cornelius
Red sauce or white? Meat or veggies? Thin crust or thick? If you’re particular about your pizza, here’s your chance to support your favorite version – and an organization that gives intellectually disabled people a chance to shine.
The Hoover Police Department is hosting its first Reach for the Pie Pizza Cook-Off on March 17. The food-themed fundraiser benefiting Special Olympics is from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Soiree Event Gallery, 2132 Lorna Ridge Lane in Hoover.
“We partner with the Law Enforcement Torch Run, which raises money for Special Olympics,” said Eric Myers, a Hoover police officer who’s heading up the event. “We’ve done other fundraisers for Special Olympics and got the idea for the pizza cook-off from an organization in another state.”
The world’s largest sports organization for those with intellectual disabilities, Special Olympics includes more than 4.9 million athletes in 172 countries and has more than a million volunteers around the world. It’s a cause that’s especially important to Myers.
“I have a son with Down syndrome, and one day he’ll be participating in Special Olympics,” Myers said. “This makes it really meaningful to me. There’s a stigma that people with disabilities can’t do anything, but you’d be amazed at their capabilities.”
He said he was at a recent event for intellectually disabled athletes that included a 400-meter swim. As a police officer, he has to be in good shape. But he said he was impressed by the participants’ abilities.
“I don’t think I could swim that far,” he said. “If you haven’t been to a Special Olympics event, you don’t understand how much these young athletes can do.”
At the Reach for the Pie Cook-Off, several Hoover-area pizzerias will compete in four categories: traditional, gourmet, New York style and “no red,” as in a sauce other than red.
Myers said judges will choose winners. Those who attend also can vote on a fan favorite.
Set to pit their pizza-making skills against each other are Domino’s Pizza, IronStone Pizza, Jet’s Pizza, Publix, Salvatore’s Pizza & Pasta and Turner Foods Systems.
Winners will receive a title that’s quite a mouthful: “la migliore pizzeria in città,” the Italian way to say “best pizza in town.”
Early bird tickets to the cook-off are $15. Regular tickets are $20. You can buy tickets at www.eventbrite.com.
“The tickets include two large slices of pizza,” Myers said. “You choose which pizzeria station to visit and then pick your slices. You can also buy additional slices for $1.”
Coca-Cola products will be served at the event.
Myers said he’s pleased with the support the inaugural Reach for the Pie has received.
“I think it will become an annual event,” he said.
For more information, follow the event on Facebook @ReachForThePie.