Columbus Community Hall

Chili Cookoff packs punch for charities



By Ron Giofu


It was a milestone year for the Charity Chili Cookoff.

The cookoff, held annually at the Columbus Community Hall (formerly known as the Knights of Columbus Hall) in Amherstburg, was presented for the 25th time last Saturday night. Organizer Ron Fryer said there were eight teams this year.

Teams, and the charities they were helping, included the Columbus Community Hall (benefiting the K of C), the Royal Canadian Legion Br. 157, the Amherstburg Food and Fellowship Mission, Maria’s Restaurant (benefiting Amherstburg Community Services), Smashed Apple Gourmet Catering (benefiting the United Way), the Artisan Grill (benefiting Amherstburg Community Services), Wolfhead Distillery (benefiting the Amherstburg Food and Fellowship Mission) and Royal LePage (benefiting cancer research).

Fryer said he updated the event several years ago, got rid of the judges and allowed the people to choose the winner. While the participants served the chili, they didn’t necessarily serve their own entry as chili was poured into eight identical serving trays and dished out from those as to keep the competition as fair as possible.

The winners from the 2018 Charity Chili Cookoff were crowned at the Columbus Community Hall Saturday night. From left: Natalie Borrelli and Kirk Churchill from Maria’s Restaurant (third place), Tim and Winston McAllister from the Amherstburg Food and Fellowship MIssion (first place) and Kevin and Court Meloche from the Columbus Community Hall (second place).

“For $10, where are you going to go to sample chili?” asked Fryer. “For $10, where can you go for a night out?”

The Amherstburg Food and Fellowship Mission came in first place, the Columbus Community Hall finished second and Maria’s Restaurant came in third.

Mission president Tim McAllister, who served the chili with his son Winston, joked prior to the judging that he was there to win it.

“We’ve won second and third but we never won first,” McAllister said once the results were announced. “We are excited, grateful and thankful that people came out and supported us in this event. It was a lot of fun. I’m glad we were able to win.”

“It’s for a good cause,” added Winston.

The band Rio Michaels performed after the cookoff was concluded. Final totals of what each winning team won was not available at press time.

Community bids farewell to Father Donato



By Ron Giofu


A beloved local priest is heading home to Africa but is leaving with positive memories of his time in the area.

Father Donato Lwiyando has left for his homeland of the Congo with his last day in Canada being Tuesday. Father Donato spent six years in Canada with stops at churches in Windsor and London before coming to St. John the Baptist Church in Amherstburg as associate pastor. His most recent church was Good Shepherd Church in Lakeshore. He also spent time assisting those of African origin in the area.

Upon his return to the Congo, Father Donato will look after the Hope of St. Joseph Shelter he founded.

“I have the shelter and I need to take care of it,” said Father Donato. “We have 40 girls living there in the shelter. I think it’s a good time for me to go and take care of those girls.”

ather Donato Lwiyando visits with parishioners from St. Jerome Church from Windsor during a farewell party March 4 at the Columbus Community Hall. He leaves March 6 to move back to the Congo.

Women and children both live in the shelter, with the shelter being a safe haven for the women who have suffered rape and abuse.

Father Donato said he has enjoyed his time in Canada and made many friends during his time in Amherstburg but it was time to go back to Africa. He said he started thinking about returning in February 2017 and made his decision in January 2018.

“I love the community of Amherstburg. I love it very much,” he said. “I had to choose between friends who are OK and friends who are suffering. I chose those who are suffering.”

Father Donato will also be a parish priest and also hopes to return to teaching in the seminary in the Congo. He will also try and help provide medical treatments to those in his homeland.

“When I went home to the Congo, I found people dying of sicknesses that could have been healed,” he said.

Father Donato’s time in Canada also saw him assist with the Spanish-speaking population near Sarnia. He would visit at least twice per month. He was also involved with other groups that helped spread love and peace in the area.

“I will miss the people. I really love the people of Amherstburg,” he said. “They were very, very kind. I will miss their smiles.”

Father Donato hugs a St. John the Baptist Church parishioner (right) during his farewell party at the Columbus Community Hall.

Adding he will always remember how he was welcomed to the area, Father Donato stated that he will always remember Amherstburg’s generosity.

“The people of Amherstburg are really, really generous,” he said. “I will miss that. I have very, very good memories of this community. I felt very loved, very welcomed. I will never forget them.”

Father Donato also spoke highly of St. John the Baptist Church priest Father Brian Jane.

“He has been very friendly, very supportive and very human,” Father Donato stated. “May God bless him.”

While Father Donato has gone home, fundraising for the Hope of St. Joseph Shelter continues. A pasta and salad dinner will be held at the Columbus Community Hall March 18 starting at 4:30 p.m. The cost is $10 and all proceeds will go to the shelter.

ACS’ “SOUPer Wednesday” returns Feb. 21


Soup lovers across Windsor-Essex rejoice – SOUPer Wednesday returns to Amherstburg Feb. 21.

The annual soup cook-off is now in its fourth year as a much-needed fundraiser for its host, Amherstburg Community Services (ACS).  The non-profit organization’s executive director says the funds raised will go towards the purchase of a new accessible vehicle.

“We’re looking to this event to kick-off a fundraising campaign that will help us purchase a new, accessible van,” DiBartolomeo said.  “For $10 a ticket, not only will you get to try some of the best soups made by some of the region’s best restaurants, you will give a helping hand to the people who rely on our transportation service.”

ACS has provided nearly 25,000 rides for seniors or adults with physical mobility issues over the past three years.  In December, they took one of their vehicles off the road and are looking to replace it.

The SOUPer Wednesday event pits 13 local restaurants and chefs against each other to determine who makes the region’s best soup.  Ticket holders receive all-you-can-eat soup, one dessert serving, and a ballot to vote for their favorite soup entry, and takeout tickets are also available.

The event will be hosted at the Columbus Community Hall (formerly known as the Amherstburg Knights of Columbus Hall) at 190 Richmond St from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. and is sponsored by John D’Alimonte & Kim Wheeler RE/MAX Preferred Realty, Season’s Amherstburg, Dollars & Cents Investments, and Tino’s Auto Service.

This year’s participating restaurants are the 19th Hole at Wildwood; Armando’s Amherstburg; Artisan Grill; Beacon Ale House; D.o.C.K 21; Dalhousie Bistro; Gilligan’s Amherstburg; Knights of Columbus; LA Town Grill; Maria’s Restaurant; Season’s Amherstburg; Smashed Apple Catering and Takeout; and last year’s champion Specks.

For more information, people can contact Amherstburg Community Services at 519-736-5471 or visit their website at

“Fights at the Knights” showcases area boxers



By Jolene Perron


“I wish more people understood what amateur Olympic boxing was all about. It’s seeing the child that had low self-esteem glow, the kid who got bullied realize that he will not stand for it. Seeing quiet kids become leaders helping other quiet ones. Just ask a parent, and hear what they say.”

President of Fighting Island Boxing Club Joe LeBlanc said while most people believe what they see in the movies and on television, that’s not what true amateur Olympic boxing is.

LeBlanc said they try to hold shows once or twice a year to help fund other tournaments and shows they attend throughout the year, and to showcase their young up and coming fighters.

Brandon French connects with a punch versus Owen Will during their matchup Nov. 18. It was one of the boxing matches at “Fights at the Knights.”

“Every athlete that wants to fight can, providing that they are ready mentally and physically,” said LeBlanc. “All competitors are matched according to their age, weight and experience. When they are in a competition judges determine the outcome, as to who wins. All is done on points. There are three judges and a referee determining the fight.”

During the Nov. 18 event at the Columbus Community Hall, gyms from Toronto, Waterloo, London, Chatham, Sarnia and Windsor all came out. All the fighters who participated Nov. 18 will be participating in the provincials in Toronto Dec. 7-10. The event also served as a tribute to a fallen member.

Rebecca D’Adostin (right) makes
contact with her opponent Bridget Doyle during their matchup.

“Stevie Wigle started at the gym when he was 10-years-old and competed continually until his accident,” said LeBlanc. “Stevie was principal champ and attended the national championships representing Ontario two times, medalling both times. He was starting the process of becoming a new coach, and was a mentor to all the young fighters in the club.”

Fighting Island Boxing Club winners of the night included Brandon French, Jesse Hasson, who was also named boxer of the night, Lucca Capola and Spencer Quinn. LeBlanc said “Stevie Wigle was smiling down on all of his club mates.”

For more information on Fighting Island Boxing Club, visit them at 300 Victoria St. S. or give them a call at 519-962-5186.

Fighting Island Boxing Club hosting show this Saturday night



By Ron Giofu


Fight fans don’t have to leave Amherstburg this weekend in order to see a night of amateur boxing.

Amherstburg’s Fighting Island Boxing Club (FIBC) will host “Fight at the Knights” this Saturday night at the Columbus Community Hall (formerly known as the Knights of Columbus Hall) at 190 Richmond St. Barring any last minute changes to the card, there will be about a dozen fights scheduled.

Local fighters will include 11-year-old Brandon French, 12-year-old Jesse Hasson, 11-year-old Carter White, 17-year-old Luca Capola, 14-year-old Spencer Quinn, 23-year-old Matt DiPasquale, 24-year-old Nate DiPasquale, 24-year-old Noram Lachance and 27-year-old Tyson Whalen.

Fighting Island Boxing Club owner/coach Joe LeBlanc said a number of gyms from around southwestern Ontario are sending fighters.

“We’ve got gyms coming in from all over the place,” he said, listing Windsor, Kitchener, Waterloo, Chatham-Kent, Brampton, London and Toronto as places were boxers are coming from.

The “Fight at the Knights” show will also be in memory of former FIBC fighter Stevie Wigle, who passed away earlier this year.

“We’re going to do this show in memory of him,” said LeBlanc, adding the music played between fights will be music Wigle enjoyed.

LeBlanc added they are looking at other ways to honour Wigle, including possibly purchasing a memorial bench.

Wigle had been with the FIBC for seven years and was a hero to the younger fighters, LeBlanc said.

“He was their mentor,” said LeBlanc. “They are fighting in his memory.”

Proceeds from Saturday night’s boxing show will help the FIBC with travel and accommodation costs for their trip to the provincial championships in Toronto this December.

“Every penny that comes in is for the kids,” said LeBlanc.

Doors open at 6 p.m., fights start at 7 p.m. There will be a cash bar, 50/50 draw and prize draws. Admission is $15, payable at the door.