The Home T is committed to raising money for multiple sclerosis (MS) research at the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, but we also want to help raise awareness about the disease and how it impacts people.
(Photo by John Winters)
We first met Cindy when she sent us this awesome photo with her husband Lance. We immediately noticed her Home T behind her apron and her super cool food truck! We wanted to learn more about her story.
Cindy runs a nonprofit food truck business called BBQ4GOOD that seeks to end MS by sponsoring and supporting the Multiple Sclerosis Society and helping to raise funding and awareness through their BBQ.
We chatted with Cindy about her business, her journey with MS, and what makes Texas barbecue so darn good!
What state do you call home?
We love talking to other companies that give back. Can you tell us more about how you came up with the idea of BBQ4GOOD?
My husband, who had been in the software industry for 20 + years, decided to leave the tech world and follow his passion to start a barbecue food trailer business called Bohemian Barbecue. We really wanted to find a way to get more involved in our community and give back so we came up with a way to use that and cook for those in need, to raise money for charities and to be able to be there to provide food in the case of a natural disaster. So, that’s where BBQ4GOOD came from.
When did you learn you had multiple sclerosis and how did it affect your business goals?
I first learned I had MS late in 2014 when I woke up with a blind spot in my right eye. It turns out it was optic neuritis which prompted my doctor to send me to the ER to have an MRI on my brain. I was a stay at home Mom of 2 boys and also had a photography business. I think emotionally the diagnosis brought me down and caused me to stop doing photography all together. It was really hard.
My optic neuritis is in my right eye and I am left eye dominant. I started to realize that I can still do photography and there was a reason I didn’t get it in my left eye. I needed to keep doing what I love! I still do a little bit of photography here and there but, our main goal now is to get our barbecue business up and running and make it successful.
Do you have relapsing remitting or progressive?
I have relapsing remitting.
What has multiple sclerosis helped you learn about yourself?
Mainly that I am stronger than I ever thought I was. The diagnosis was really tough to absorb and I definitely was depressed and still get depressed from time to time. But, I just keep going and when I get tired, I actually take the time to rest.
I have figured out that when I feel the best is when I start my day moving, whether it be walking or running or getting things done around the house. I have learned to listen to my body. I have good days and bad and I try to stay positive mentally and that helps too.
I also give myself an injection 3 days a week, which I NEVER thought I could do. I hate needles! But I am doing it and have been quite successful so far! My husband and my boys keep me going daily. They need me and I need them. I have always felt like it’s my job to take care of everyone around me and they have stepped up and learned that they need to take care of me every once in a while.
What's one thing those that people who don't have multiple sclerosis should know about it?
That it can be invisible to others and it is so unpredictable. Having an illness that may not make you look different than your normal self can lead people to believe that you feel great. Also, not knowing what tomorrow holds, or next week, or next year is very hard to deal with. Going to bed every night wondering if I will be able to walk or see the next day is hard. Luckily, that hasn’t happened to me but, I think about it constantly. It’s hard not to.
I heard that you are cooking for the cyclists in the BP MS 150 fundraiser in Austin. What are you guys cooking?
YES! We are so excited to be cooking for about 2500 cyclists as they cross the finish line in Austin from Houston. We wanted to make a difference, and barbecue is a language that most everyone in Texas speaks fluently.
As for what we will be cooking… answering this question is tougher than you think! Cooking for 2500 people is a tall order, and brisket can be the trickiest, but we couldn’t tell people that there is barbecue at the end of their long ride and not serve brisket! So… we are smoking brisket and chicken and coupling it with a very unique and delicious twice baked potato salad and beans borrachos.
We have about a hundred volunteers lined up and 2 hour time slots for each to come help us serve the food. BBQ4GOOD has a virtual riding team and we have set our goal high and are doing really well so far! Our entire family and friends have stepped up and I don’t know how we will ever be able to thank them enough! I have never actually been to an MS 150 event so this is going to be very emotional for me to see all of these people dedicating their time and money to help cure MS. We love to help and for something obviously so close to us makes it that much more special.
What makes Texas barbecue different from other states?
What makes Texas style barbecue different depends on what part of Texas. In central Texas and much of the gulf coast, there is an emphasis on the brisket, the spices in the rub, and the pecan/oak wood that is used to slow smoke it to the perfect bark, smoke ring, and tenderness! My husband comes from a barbecue family and grew up learning from Czech (aka Bohemian) pit-masters out of El Campo, Texas.
Comments will be approved before showing up.
In 2011, Beth Donaldson, mother of two and wife of a police SWAT officer, was busy with work and the day-to-day life of raising two children. But when she was diagnosed with MS at 40, she dedicated herself to making a difference. Now she and her husband Mike run Living MS and are launching a charity bike ride to benefit MS awareness and research.