It's summertime in Tennessee, and what better way to cool off than a big scoop of homemade ice cream? Ed Riley of Lebanon's Mo'Cara is known for his "refined Southern dining," including delectable homemade ice cream, but perhaps the sweetest thing he offers is a heart for serving the community.
Throughout the month of July, Mo'Cara will donate 20 percent of its total sales (excluding alcohol) to Sherry's Run, the local faith-based non-profit that benefits cancer patients and their families. When Sherry's Run Marketing Director Alisa Van Dyke sat down with Riley to discuss the fund raiser, she asked him about his passion for giving back. He shared an emotional story about his dear friend Robert Harris, who passed away from colon cancer. Harris was passionate about Sherry's Run and, several years ago, asked Riley to support the organization with proceeds from the annual Low Country Boil event.
Riley went on to tell of a time when he was standing out in the field where the Low Country Boil takes place while planning the event. As he stood there, a man drove up on a tractor, gave him a big hug and began to thank him for his support of Sherry's Run. The man was a cancer patient and told Riley of the tremendous blessing that Sherry's Run had been for his family and how grateful he was for those who support it. The encounter gave Riley the resolve he needed to continue supporting Sherry's Run in any way he could.
Riley, along with several friends, has organized the Low Country Boil for the past 12 years. This year, the group has decided to take the annual fund raiser in a new and exciting direction. The new event is called Mardi Gras at the Capitol and will be held in February at the Capitol Theatre in Lebanon.
Riley went on to share several other stories of friends and families he has encountered throughout the years who were blessed by Sherry's Run and thanked him for his support.
"I'm a local business owner, and I care about this community," Riley said. "It just makes sense to do whatever I can do to help my neighbors."
"Ed is a great example of what Sherry's Run is all about," Sherry's Run Executive Board Member Tonyia Watson said. "We are neighbors helping neighbors. We could not do what we do without caring people like Ed."
The "homegrown" focus of Mo'Cara extends beyond its support for Sherry's Run. Almost all of the ingredients used in Riley's unique dishes come from local sources. When you visit Mo'Cara this month, you can support local farmers, a local business and a local non-profit. For location, business hours and menu information, visit www.mocarasouth.com.
The 12th Annual Sherry's Run is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 12 at 8 a.m. at 623 West Main Street in Lebanon.