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Police and fire department compete in jalapeño eating contest for charity

By KBell
Feb. 15, 2011 at 7:01 p.m.
Updated Feb. 14, 2011 at 8:15 p.m.

After cooling their mouths and wiping their eyes, members of the Victoria Fire Department and Victoria Police Department display checks awarded to charities of their choice for participating in the Whataburger's jalapeno eating contest Tuesday night. Left to right, with the Fire Department are Matt Gomez, Morgan Ross and Patrick McLaughlin. With the Police Department are Zac DeLaRosa, Joshua Vaclavik and Travis Hanson.

With tears in their eyes, members of the Victoria Police Department congratulated members of the Victoria Fire Department on their humbling victory.

The two organizations had just battled it out in a jalapeño eating contest sponsored by Whataburger on Tuesday night.

The contest is sponsored by Whataburger Serves, the restaurant's community service program, and kicks off the restaurant's free jalapeño week.

"It's great because it's an opportunity to have some fun, bring some organizations together, raise some money and eat a lot of jalapeños," said Darcy Jones, with the Whataburger marketing department.

Three firefighters beat out three officers, eating a total of 24 jalapeños in 60 seconds. The officers ended up downing 17 of the peppers.

Firefighter Matt Gomez, 31, who had assumed a serious, pokerfaced stance over his plate, said he had strategy for winning the contest.

"Eat two at a time and bite all the way to the stem," he said, guzzling down mouth-cooling milk after eating 10 jalapeños, more than anyone else.

Gomez said he's a fan of the peppers, and he didn't have to fight fellow firefighters hard for a chance to represent the department.

"Whoever was dumb enough to do it," was the only criteria for joining the team, Gomez joked.

But in all seriousness, the spicy endeavor served the community.

"Once I heard what it was for, I was really on board," Gomez said.

Whataburger presented the fire department with a check for $750 that will go to the South Texas Chapter of the Guardians of the Ribbon, an organization that benefits women with cancer.

The police department won $250, which they will donate to The Boys and Girls Club.

Officer Zac DeLaRosa said he'd participated in a hot wing eating contest before and was quick to sign up for the competition.

"I've been known as that guy who eats anything," he said.

While the police were defeated this year, DeLaRosa vowed to be back with fiery vengeance next year.

"Anything we can do for the community or charity, I'm always willing," he said.



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