Today we’d like to introduce you to Elizabeth Pierce.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Elizabeth. So, let’s start at the beginning, and we can move on from there.
We are a group of friends and neighbors directly impacted by sexual assault in 2013. We have since dedicated our organization (and favorite hobby) to create awareness and support for those impacted by sexual assault.
The families that make up White Rock Que are Amber and Nate Kotschi, Tricia and Dustin McCoy, and Elizabeth and John Pierce, but many have contributed along the way including a fourth founding family, Cassandra and Eric Jenkins.
Our barbecue competition started as a friendly neighborhood rivalry – who smoked the best brisket. We invited neighbors and friends over to vote and share in the gluttony. Our first two events were just that – friendly competition and a fun neighborhood party, but because of our experience in 2013, we decided to turn our block party into much more.
I was assaulted in my home on February 21, 2013, the first victim in a series of sexual assaults in our neighborhood. Our community embarked on a rollercoaster of emotions until the perpetrator was arrested on April 2, and nearly a year later, after all, three survivors testified in court, was sentenced to 85 years in prison.
Until this point, we weren’t aware of the pervasiveness and indiscriminate nature of sexual assault. Personally, this was incredibly difficult of course, but the outpouring of support from the community and the friends who now comprise White Rock Que was what prevailed. A conversation that is often avoided became a focus of this neighborhood and the center of our organization.
I was introduced to the Dallas Area Rape Crisis Center (DARCC) the moment I arrived at the hospital in the middle of the night, alone and terrified. A volunteer for DARCC met me there, answered questions, held my hand, and provided clothes and toiletries to scrub away the assault after hours of waiting, questions, and examination. From that point forward DARCC provided weekly therapy, counseled my family and friends, answered never-ending questions, and provided support through the trial.
As the families who founded White Rock Que experienced this alongside me and my husband, we all recognized how underserved this community is and how critical an organization like DARCC is, not only for supporting survivors but also for creating awareness, education and building a culture of understanding. We feel passionate that we need to do everything in our power to prevent this from happening to anyone else, and if it does, to ensure that the support is in place to guide them through it.
When we decided to raise money for DARCC, over event doubled in size. Still held in the McCoy’s backyard, we purchased custom t-shirts and asked attendees to donate in exchange. The result was a $5,000 donation to DARCC and an awesome party.
At that point, we knew we had outgrown the backyard, and knew that with the right venue, we could do so much more. We approached Oak Highlands Brewery (OHB), a newly opened neighborhood brewery, to discuss hosting the event there. With an instant yes and open arms, OHB welcomed us into their space, and we began planning for the 2016 event. The event grew from 200 attendees to 1,200. We introduced new teams, sponsors and ticket sales and raised $20,000 for the organization.
In 2017 we rounded out the competition with nine teams and were blessed with additional sponsors and support. We sold out with 1,500 attendees and raised $30,000 for DARCC.
With each year we ask ourselves, how can we do it better? And 2018 set a new bar as we again sold out and donated $50,000 to DARCC bringing our total to exceed $100,000 for the organization. While we have a unique theme for each annual event, WRQ’s motto is to eat well and make a difference, and that’s certainly what we do.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
It’s been a relatively smooth road – we’re fortunate to do this with such close friends and a supportive community. 2019 will be our seventh year, and with success, we have been fortunate enough to experience, we are at the point where we have to decide where to go from here. Maxed out on space with 1,500 attendees and nine BBQ teams, we can continue to operate at this size or grow beyond our current space and potentially move away from our faithful supporters.
While we want to raise as much money and awareness as possible for DARCC, we want to be true to our roots and continue the event as a celebration of this great community and their support. We aren’t interested in hosting an event that’s cost prohibitive for a Lake Highlands family, or so big that you miss out on the fellowship with your neighbors.
Another challenge as a result of the growth is time – we all operate as volunteers and each work full-time outside of WRQ. Because all proceeds are donated directly to DARCC, we’re lean and mean, and that requires us to make good use of our time and resources. Each year we try to make the event better than the year before really stretching our creativity!
Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about White Rock Que – what should we know?
White Rock Que is a 501c3 committed to supporting those impacted by sexual assault through good food and good times. Each year we host a BBQ event raising awareness and support for the Dallas Area Rape Crisis Center (DARCC), an organization providing compassionate support to individuals impacted by sexual violence.
We are most proud of the fact that we have donated over $100,000 to DARCC through our annual barbecue competition. This competition is what we’re best known for – it’s held annually at Oak Highlands Brewery in May. This year’s event will be May 18, 2019. I personally am most proud of the people we do this with. These friendships are one-of-a-kind, and their commitment and empathy are beyond reproach.
This is like no other barbecue competition out there. While teams compete in traditional blind judging of brisket, ribs, and pork, they are also expected to serve each of our 1,500 attendees a sample of their QUE! The teams are provided with over 300 pounds of meat and bring their best “jackpot” item to compete for the coveted People’s Choice trophy. It takes an army of 72 cooks and trailer pits to pull this off. We have a long waitlist of pit masters begging to enter which is unlikely since our current teams have no plans of stopping any time soon.
We partner with local vendors, bands, and sponsors to support the event and host it at a local brewery. We also focus on the experience for our attendees, the cooks, our sponsors, and the judges. We want people to have a great time and always be looking forward to the next year. Not to mention, the food is THE BEST!
Details of each year’s event here:
2018 – Our best year yet. Pits were set-up at Oak Highlands Brewery, and the event was sold out! Royals, Ribs & Rubs was attended by over 1,500 and $50,000 was raised for DARCC! Crowns were awarded for blind judging in brisket, pork, and ribs, the crowd selected a People’s Choice winner, and one lucky team walked away with Grand Champion.
2017 – WRQ set-up at Oak Highlands Brewery again for WRQ 5: Peace. Love. BBQ on May 20th! Nine teams competed for the coveted People’s Choice trophy in addition to three awards in blind judging for brisket, pork, and ribs. Over 1,500 attended and $30,000 was raised for our friends at DARCC!
2016 – WRQ moved out of the neighborhood and opened the event to the entire community. Over 1,200 friends attended our WRQ BBQ Caucus hosted by Oak Highlands Brewery. Continuing our commitment to DARCC, we exceeded our expectations and raised $20K for this organization.
2015 – WRQ upped the ante for the Summer Pro Am by adding four more cooks in a ribs division and fundraising for an organization we support. Over 200 friends attended, and WRQ raised more than $5K for DARCC.
2014 – Over 100 friends came together to vote on which of the four Pitmasters would hold bragging rights for WRQ’s Spring Invitational.
2013 – Four neighbors set out on a mission to uncover who had the best brisket. Despite the rain, really heavy rain, 40 friends had a great time at WRQ’s Fall Classic.
Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
The founders of White Rock Que include the following families – Dustin and Tricia McCoy, Nate and Amber Kotschi, Eric and Cassandra Jenkins, and John and Elizabeth Pierce – none of this would be possible without them!
Additionally, our incredible sponsors, the team at Oak Highlands Brewery, and the cooks who give so much to the event. Last, but not least, the Lake Highlands community and our friends and families who have welcomed this event with open arms and supported its growth and mission wholeheartedly.
- Event tickets are sold for $20/person until May 1 when the price increases to $25/person – on-sale while supplies last.
- T-shirts are sold for $15 – on-sale while supplies last.
- Become a 2019 Friend of White Rock Que for $250
- Website: www.whiterockque.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/whiterockque
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/whiterockque
Jeff Bargas Photography