Presented by the Emeril Lagasse Foundation, the 12th annual Chi Chi Miguel fundraiser took place this spring and raised $2 million for eight area charities. From the overall monies raised, the Emerald Coast Children’s Advocacy Center (ECCAC) received a generous $93,974.

Founded in 2006 by co-chairs Valerie and Mike “Chi Chi Miguel” Thompson as a small backyard barbecue competition, the Throwdown Benefit Auction & BBQ has since expanded to a three-day, star-studded event and one of the most successful fundraisers along the Emerald Coast. ECCAC also directly benefited from the 10th annual Chi Chi Miguel Golf Tournament at Burnt Pines in Sandestin chaired by ECCAC supporters Jim and Ann Barri.

“Over the years, both the Thompsons and their Chi Chi Miguel Throwdown have been an instrumental part of our success and ability to be able to serve the children," said ECCAC CEO Julie Hurst-Porterfield. "We are so appreciative of the Chi Chi supporters, too.”

With facilities in Niceville and the Pierce Family Children’s Advocacy Center in DeFuniak Springs, ECCAC serves abused children and their families in a neutral environment. Both centers staff a multidisciplinary team of child protection personnel, prosecutors, law enforcement, DCF, therapists, and ECCAC staff and volunteers. In the organization’s 17-year history, more than 43,000 direct services have been provided in a child-friendly environment to more than 12,000 children and their families. Services are provided at no cost by the nonprofit organization.

For further information, visit If abuse is suspected, call the anonymous Florida Abuse Hotline at 1-800-96-ABUSE.