Community turns out to support RAM

Hundreds of attendees enjoyed tequila, tacos and music while supporting Remote Area Medical Volunteer Corps during the second annual Cinco Southern Tequila and Taco Festival.

The event, which took place in the parking lot of Gander Mountain at 11501 Parkside Drive in Turkey Creek on Friday, April 29, went well, Chris Hall, chief operations officer for RAM, said.

“We’ve got the Tennessee Wind Symphony and Kelsey’s Wood playing,” Hall said. “It’s been a great time. People are enjoying the food and weather while raising a lot of money for Remote Area Medical.”

He estimated about 1,000 attended the event, raising more than $18,000 for the volunteer corps. John Volpe, general manager of Abuelo's, who started the event last year, coordinated the festival. It was held in conjunction with Cinco de Mayo, a week away from the festival. Abuelo’s and Campbell Station Wine and Spirits were major sponsors of the event.

“It’s awesome,” Tom Burchill, Farragut attendee, said. “They did a good job. The weather turned out great, as well. We brought a group of about 12.

“It’s a good turnout,” Michelle Burchill of Farragut said.

“We love it,” Rick Lindsay of Knoxville said.

“It’s awesome,” Annmarie Klopfer, Knoxville attendee, said.

“I think it’s wonderful,” Dea-nna Wentworth, a Knoxville attendee, said. “I work in the hospital at UT and have volunteered for RAM before. I definitely wanted to support [RAM] because I know that it does a lot of good work for its patients.”

‘This is fantastic,” Josh Stidd, a new Knoxville resident formerly of Indiana, said. “We have something similar in Indiana but I like the theme of this festival.”

Cory Fox of Knoxville said a friend to the festival invited him.

“It’s fun,” Fox said, “It’s cool.”

“Tacos and tequila, you can’t beat it,” Kristen Bridges, Knoxville attendee, said, “The weather didn’t hurt either.”

“I love the tacos and tequila,” Sara Gibson Hillon, a Knoxville attendee, said.

“You can’t go wrong with tacos and tequila,” Justin Keys, Maryville attendee, said.

“I love it,” Carla Huddleston, Oak Ridge resident, said.

“We came here [from Lexington, Ky.,] for this,” Tasia Rader said. “My sister lives here, and it’s her birthday, it’s a charity event, and we have a whole group here.”

RAM provides free dental, medial and preventive care free to the public at one of its mobile clinics. Hall said about 80 percent of its operations is based in the United States with a high percentage being focused on Tennessee, Kentucky and Virginia.

Last year, RAM treated a little more than 30,000 patients, which delivered a value of care upward to $12 million, with just fewer than 10,000 volunteers, Hall said.

Jeff Eastman, RAM chief executive officer, said RAM operates with all private donations and fundraisers and without government funding.

Citizens in the area who could not attend but still want to donate to RAM can go to, Hall said.