Wing Cook-off More than Just a Tasty Good Time

Posted on October 11, 2023 by Romi White

Kingsley, a non-speaking client of The Starfish Project, has learned to communicate using a device the nonprofit provided. His mom says one of his favorite things to say using the device is “I love you.”

This weekend a crowd-pleasing fundraiser will take place in Navarre Park. Although the one-day event will feature tasty treats, kids activities and live music, the real mission is to benefit The Starfish Project of Northwest Florida, which supports local special needs families.

The nonprofit will host its 5th Annual Wing Cook-off from 11:30 a.m. until 4 p.m., Saturday, October 14 at Navarre Park, located at 8543 Navarre Parkway. The fun-filled event will showcase samplings of flavorful chicken wings, cooked up by competing chefs and teams. There will also be live performances by local rocker Jeff Ivanoff and The Rowdies followed by Captain Bill Crouch.

Ticket are available for $10 online or $15 at the event. Ticket holders get to sample a wing from each contestant and vote for People’s Choice. Additionally, there will be a wine pull taking place during the event.

So far 11 teams have signed up to compete for the King/Queen of Wing title, including Stripes Pub & Grill, Fulton Ave. BBQ & Catering, The Oval Office, Krewe of Karibbean, Buffalo Wild Wings, Smoke Showing BBQ, American Legion Riders, Winn Dixie, Bone Scaping Team, Fancy Yancey’s Coney on the Island, and local first responders will also be joining the cook-off with Navarre Beach Fire Rescue and Chief Danny Fureigh, sponsored by Windjammers on the Pier.

But it’s not just for food and fun. 

Abby Robertson says her son Kingsley’s augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) device, which was provided by The Starfish Project, has helped him find his voice.

“Being nonspeaking for his entire life has had its challenges, but with some encouragement and learning over the past few months, Kingsley has grown to understand the power of communication and has improved his ability to communicate with those around him.”

Robertson said they are thrilled with Kingsley’s progress with his device as well as his ability to understand how communication works. “He now understands routine, people, places, toys and he is able to act upon his thoughts accordingly.”

One of his favorite things to say using his device is, “I love you.”

“As parents, it is always a concern when your child has a hard time communicating, but having Kingsley’s AAC device and work from his therapists has made a world of difference in his life and we are so grateful to Starfish Project for giving Kingsley a voice and way to communicate all the amazing things he has to share with others.”

The Starfish Project also helped Jaime Molino’s son, Milo, who was born with a condition which required a custom helmet and therapy. Molino said the $2,650 helmet cost was not covered by their insurance provider. So the family reached out to The Starfish Project.

“Almost a week after the initial e-mail, the Starfish Project President and Founder, Brandi Hook, responded back and said they would cover the entire cost of the helmet and follow-on care. And just like that, our son got the assistance he needed, and a financial strain was lifted.”

Molino reports that medical providers are “extremely optimistic” that he will not have to seek any more medical assistance and will be able to permanently end daily use of the helmet.

“The Wing Cook-Off is more than an event to help special needs children, which of course is our main focus, but it also brings the community together,” said Brandi Hook, founder of The Starfish Project. “We are successful because of our sponsors, volunteers and those willing to put together a team. Thank you Navarre and surrounding areas.”

Donations are also accepted via

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