Friends of FishHawk resident Leo Pilotte are organizing a backyard barbecue cook-off to help his battle with cancer.

By Lily Belcher

On Sunday, September 6, David Buckner will host an all-day backyard barbecue cook-off to support FishHawk resident Leo Pilotte, who he has known for 40 years. Pilotte was diagnosed with stage four cancer two months ago and began treatment last month. The doctors are still unsure of what type of cancer he has, but they know it has spread to his colon and abdominal wall.

Pitmasters are encouraged to bring their RVs, best rubs and sauces as well as their Caribbean cooking skills to the fundraiser to support Pilotte and his family. Buckner and Pilotte chose to do a barbecue cook-off because “it’s just something that we enjoy doing and we’ve been cooking together for years,” said Buckner.

Pitmasters are welcome to camp overnight on Saturday before the barbecue cook-off begins. The family-friendly competition will include six different types of barbecue dishes: chicken, ribs, beef, pork, anything off a grill/smoker and a side dish.

Winners of each category and the best overall chef will receive a trophy for the best dish and the barbecue cooked in the competition will be sold for lunches the next day. The food smoked in the competition will be sold to families who attend the event and the money raised will go to the Pilotte family.

“There is going to be some of the best competitive and backyard BBQ guys and girls in town,” Buckner said in his Facebook post promoting the event.

The barbecue cook-off will host a raffle for families with grand prizes including: a whole house carpet and tile cleaning by Steamers of Tampa Bay LLC (provided by Scott Peterson), a fishing basket from Reel Animals Fishing Show and Bull Bay Rods (provided by Mike Anderson), a gift basket from Gypsy Mermaid Day Spa in Apollo Beach (provided by Alexis and Krissie Kight) and Chick-fil-A for a year (provided by Scott and Heidi Brickhouse).

The hosts are asking for volunteers to show up to the field the day before for a few hours to help set up campers and tents. They are also looking for local bands to provide music and entertainment for the event and judges to vote on the best dishes.

“I could use all the help I can get,” said Buckner. “This is the first time I have done anything like this.”

For more information or to sign up, direct message Buckner on Facebook at or sign up on the event’s Facebook page at

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