The Somervell County Cancer Support Group is marking its 20th year of helping cancer patients in Somervell County, and is about to get a nice surprise birthday gift.

Well, it was a surprise for a while.

An inaugural event for Glen Rose dubbed the Big Rocks Chili & BBQ Blowout is set for March 10-12 at Oakdale Park, and a portion of the proceeds will be given to the Somervell County Cancer Support Group.

Marilyn Phillips, chair of the support group, said she only recently learned about the benefit event, which is being put on by CASI — the Chili Association Society International out of Waco.

“It was a surprise, but a very good surprise,” Phillips said. “I saw it on Facebook about three weeks ago. I was like, wow. It will be very much appreciated.

“We are 100 percent grateful that they chose us to be the beneficiary. We can guarantee that every dollar we get will go to assist cancer patients in Somervell County.”

The group will host a celebration of its anniversary on Monday, Feb. 6 in the lobby of the Glen Rose Medical Center. The public is invited, and cake and punch will be available.

Phillips noted the membership in the support group includes current cancer patients, cancer survivors, caretakers, friends, family members and local supporters.

“For assistance, one may apply through a small application process,” Phillips noted.

She said that the group functions strictly off of donations and fundraisers, stating “We are thankful for each and every one” of the supporters.

The group began strictly to encourage those affected by cancer, but stepped up its level of support starting in 2011. Since that year, the support group has helped more than 70 people.

“Our vision and our need grew in 2011,” said Phillips, who previously served 16 years on the Glen Rose ISD Board of Trustees. “Since 2001, we have been able to assist local cancer patients in excess of $52,000 with gas money, traveling to and from doctor and/or treatments, medication, etc.”

Phillips explained that the support group strives to keep as much of their funding as possible in Glen Rose, purchasing gas cards from local stations and medication from local pharmacies when possible.

Phillips noted that the nonprofit group benefits — along with Papa’s Pantry — from funds raised by the local Thanksgiving Feast put on each year in Glen Rose by Larry Higgins.

The support group puts on its own fundraising events from time to time, on an as-needed basis. Last year the group was presented with a $1,500 donation from organizers of a junior barrel racing event held at the Somervell County Expo Center.

“We have been extremely blessed and embraced by our community,” Phillips said.

The chili cook-off weekend will get underway with a cook’s meal starting at 7 p.m. on Friday, March 10 at Oakdale Park, 1019 Northeast Barnard St. in Glen Rose. That’s across the street from Big Rocks Park. The event will include live entertainment on Friday evening only, for those entered in the competition, according to Kristen Gibson with the Glen Rose Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Saturday’s slate will include a barbecue cook-off, a junior cook-off and an open beans cook-off. Entry for the junior competition is $20, and that will be the first event that day, starting at 11 a.m. The barbecue cook-off entry fee is $125. Entries will be accepted until it’s time to start cooking, according to David Johnson with CASI.

On that Sunday, turn-in time for the chili cook-off will be at 1 p.m.

For more information on entering the competition, call either Donna Conrad or Diane Stimson (254-855-2767), or David Johnson (254-424-6086).

For more detailed information on the Big Rocks Chili & BBQ Blowout, contact the Glen Rose Convention and Visitors Bureau (254-897-3081).