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Wingin’ it! Reporter enters wing-eating contest to benefit cancer research • Brooklyn Paper

Wingin’ it! Reporter enters wing-eating contest to benefit cancer research

That’s a lot of chicken!: Contestants chew quickly to get down as many wings as possible in 10 minutes.
Photo by Georgine Benvenuto

What a wing-ding!

I publicly stuffed my face with as many Buffalo wings as I could in 10 minutes — in front of family, friends, and complete strangers — on Friday night to raise money for the American Cancer Society during the King of the Wing contest at the Bay Ridge’s Kettle Black on Nov. 11. Sure, I enjoy a plate of Buffalo’s tastiest export every once in awhile, but I’ve never had to down so many so fast without the help of a little ranch dressing to soften the blow! I only ate nine (and I came in last), but one of my fellow teammates tossed back a whopping 32 wings, and he said he would do it all over again if it meant wiping out cancer.

“It started off really rough, and then once I got a groove, it got a lot better, and then towards the last minute, I just could not eat any more,” said Frank Bumbalo who lives in Mill Basin. “It’s a great cause. I’ll do anything to abolish cancer, [even] put my colon on the line.”

Fourteen of us were split into two teams and went head-to-head. Some eaters got their pals to pledge cash per wing eaten, and other people gave lump sums. My family and I made a contribution, and I even got a friend to pledge $20. All told, our team scarfed down a total of 297 thighs and drumsticks — and the 14 of us raised a combined $7,100 for Relay for Life of MCU Park, which contributes to cancer research via the American Cancer Society.

But the contest was also part of a larger event across New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania where participants at 15 different wing-eating contests chomped down on the greasy goodness all night and raised a total $27,180, organizers said.

An eater at an upstate contest managed to down 74 wings — an accomplishment to be sure, but raising money is what counts, said Relay for Life of MCU Park organizer Joe Gillette.

“That’s crazy. I can’t even imagine,” he said. “But at the end of the day we came in with the money, so that’s what’s important.”

And the night was even more special for one of my teammates, Silvana Cusimano, who is a breast cancer survivor. Cusimano quickly — and gracefully — house 21 wings. She came in second place for the women on my team, but the best part of the night was how everyone came together for such a great cause, she said.

“I still can’t believe I ate as many as I did,” said Cusimano, who lives in Bensonhurst. “We are definitely making an impact in Brooklyn and that’s kudos to Joe Gillette. I think what’s great about it is we’re really doing a lot of things for the community. Everyone’s coming together as a community, look at the support we had and the money we raised. I thought that was phenomenal.”

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at jcuba@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.

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