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Contributed image from Eskew+Dumez+Ripple -- The House That Hogs Built on State Street will provide housing for families seeking treatment at Children's Hospital. It is being supported by the charity cook off Hogs for the Cause.

Each spring, the charity cook-off teams behind Hogs for the Cause build a temporary town of camps and pavilions all designed to last for one weekend of partying and fundraising. Now the work of those teams will build something more permanent.

Hogs for the Cause and Children’s Hospital have announced plans for a project dubbed the House That Hogs Built, which will create specialized housing for patients and their families traveling from around the region for treatment at the Uptown hospital.

Funded with a $2 million contribution from Hogs for the Cause, the “house” is similar in concept to an extended stay hotel, with 14 suites and common areas for kids to play and families to gather. An existing building across the street from the hospital on State Street will be renovated for the project, which should be completed later in 2017. Children's Hospital is also developing a second adjacent building for the same purpose.

The project is a big step for Hogs for the Cause, which has grown tremendously thanks to a team-led community approach that unites people from many walks of life under the banner of barbecue and giving back. That approach resonates for the hospital.


Hogs for the Cause 

“We’re very excited to see a broad group of individuals feeling so strongly about supporting our work and the services we provide for children,” said Mary Perrin, president and CEO of Children’s Hospital. “For families staying there, it will be particularly comforting to know that an entire community has come together in their time of need.”

Hogs for the Cause got its start in 2009 as a pig roast among friends to raise money for a New Orleans boy, Ben Sarrat Jr., who was diagnosed with brain cancer. It’s grown into one of the city’s most popular food events and a leading source nationally of support for families dealing with pediatric brain cancer. The organization has made grants to more than 400 families, and grant requests now come from around the country.

Individual teams drive the fundraising, developing their own team themes, team culture, spin-off events and ranks of donors and sponsors along the way.

Becker Hall, co-founder of Hogs for the Cause, said the group remains focused on family grants, while the House That Hogs Built is intended to address issues these families frequently face as they seek treatment.

Hall said it could also become a hub for teams and other supporters to contribute beyond the event.

“They can cook for the families and be part of this year round,” he said. “Our teams want to be in it, they believe in this, they believe it’s not just about the bands and the barbecue and the good times. That's what gives us the confidence to do this.”

While the cause is serious, the vehicle for the group’s fundraising is freewheeling and often wild, with thousands of people turning the Hogs for the Cause weekend into a giant, pork-themed party. A bit of that spirit will carry over the House That Hogs Built, where pig-themed logos are part of the design. That feels right to Perrin.

“I think that’s what makes this bond unique and special,” she said of the Hogs for the Cause partnership. “The Hogs people can be over the top and the kids love that about them. Who doesn’t love a barbecue and a party? That’s much more in keeping with kids than something that could be somber and serious. So I embrace the fun of it.”

Hogs for the Cause is set for March 31 and April 1 on the UNO Lakefront Arena grounds.

Follow Ian McNulty on Twitter, @IanMcNultyNOLA.