Paint the Town Pink kicks off with Swedish meatball cook-off

(ABC 6 News)- As of Saturday, Austin raised more than a quarter of a million dollars so far during the city’s Paint The Town Pink events.

On Saturday, locals came to support the Hormel Institute for Cancer Research, and some meatball-shaped family traditions.

“I use my grandmother’s recipe and she would’ve been 110-years-old, so it’s things that are passed down from generations,” said Jeremy Olson, owner of local favourite Hoot’s and Ole’s Tavern.

This Austin tap house, filled with the aroma of beer, meatballs and dozens wanting to make a difference. The warm and inviting energy in the room, was all-encompassing.

“It brings the community together, everybody’s been affected by cancer in some way or form,” said Hormel fundraising volunteer, Zach Ahrens.

The meatballs themselves aren’t related to cancer, but this community has a deeply rooted Swedish history, that they’re proud to celebrate.

“We just try to do different things every year, and everybody’s got a Norwegian grandma that has made some kind of Swedish meatball,” said Olson. “So we’re like ‘let’s try this and see who’s got the best one.'”

But not everyone can cook; that’s why some, like Ahrens, are finding other ways to help. Even if it means spending years growing your hair, just to cut it off for the cause.

“The amazing people at the institute are researching a cause, and we gotta keep raising money to find a cure,” said Ahrens.

“Lotta love, lotta love. A lot of it is recipes that have been passed down from generation to generation,” said Olson, when asked about what goes into making a Swedish meatball.

The pre-party for the Polar Plunge will be held at the Eagle Club in Austin, and for anyone who wants to watch, the head shaving will start at around 10:30 a.m. with breakfast being served shortly after.

A previous version of this story stated the Swedish meatball fundraiser raised a quarter of a million dollars. As of Saturday, Paint The Town Pink raised about a quarter of a million dollars as an aggregate