What started as a competition for bragging rights between friends quickly became one of the biggest fundraisers for the prevention of cancer deaths for our area. Now with just over $70,000 raised for Mary Bird Perkins TGMC Cancer Center and its Early Bird Mobile Medical Clinic—the mobile unit that gives free cancer screenings to individuals in the Bayou Region—the non-profit organization Roux For A Reason is making large strides against the deadly disease by bringing the community together for their Roux for a Reason Gumbo Cook-Off every year. 

“It’s great; it’s more than we ever thought we were going to do. We got more support from the community than we initially thought we were going to,” says Ben Floyd, co-founder and board member of Roux For A Reason. “To be able to help, especially with the mobile screening unit, and have people be able to be screened who can’t afford it or don’t have insurance has been great. If we can save one person, that’s a success to us.” 

For the organization that consists of the board members/friends, Ben Levy, Nick Gregory, Jonathan Morris, Brett Monier, John Breaux, Brett Means, Chris Chiasson, William Bordelon Michael Meche and brothers Blake and Ben Floyd, the importance of early detection was unfortunately taught to them by the two devastating losses of Ben and Blake’s father; Dr. John C. Floyd and Ben Levy’s father; Benard Levy. 

“If you catch a lot of these cancers early enough, they are more a treatable, actually. My dad’s cancer, for instance, started in his colon. If you catch it in the polyp stage of the colon, they can be cut out with a much better success rate,” Ben says. “But by not catching it early, it starts to spread to the liver and different parts of his body.”

According to the organization’s website, rouxforareason.org, 340,000 cases of cancer could be prevented each year from early detection. “In addition to detecting cancer early, screening for colorectal and cervical cancers can prevent these cancers by identifying precancerous lesions that can be removed,” the website also states. 

At Roux For A Reason’s first cook-off in 2017, the organization saw tremendous success. More than 30 teams showed up to compete for the awards of 1st, 2nd and 3rd place and the People’s Choice (1st Place—Cenac Towing, 2nd Place—Houma Digestive Health, 3rd Place—Norby Chabert, People’s Choice—Roux-Jects). Over 800 cook-off goers contributed to the $30,000 the organization raised for Mary Bird Perkins TGMC Cancer Center that year with ticket sales, sponsors and a silent auction. 

The following year yielded even greater results. Fifty teams competed for the titles (Seafood Category: 1st place—Cenac Marine Services, 2nd Place—Gulf South Risk Services, 3rd Place—William Bordelon Attorney; Chicken and Sausage Category: 1st Place–Pitre Wealth Management, 2nd Place—Performance Power Sports, 3rd Place—Prairieville Wild Boys; People’s Choice—Paul’s Insurance Agency) and the organization was able to raise $40,000 for the Cancer Center. 

In 2018, TGMC was able to screen over 600 people for free with the Early Bird mobile facility. They were also able to hold over 11 educational events. There is no question that a large reason the Cancer Center has been able to make such a huge impact in the area is because of Roux For A Reason. 

“It’s all about time. You catch it earlier, you’re more likely to be able to be successfully treated,” Ben says, “So, we’re trying to provide screening to the community for people who can’t afford it or don’t know about it and to educate the community on how to get screened, where to get screened to help prevent people from getting into those later stages.”

This year’s Roux for a Reason Gumbo Cook-Off will be on March 23. Additional information, such as the entertainment lineup, how to donate, signup your team or become a sponsor, can be found on their website. POV