Local servers face off in ‘tray race’ to raise money for MS

The tray race was set up in the Ethel’s Lounge’s parking lot in front of King St. (Photo by Ryan Hueglin)

The servers, cooks and mangers of Waterloo Region’s restaurant industry gathered at Ethel’s Lounge in Waterloo Monday afternoon to face off in the annual ‘tray race,’ an event that raised $14,615 for the Waterloo-district chapter of Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Society of Canada.

Over 20 teams from various restaurants participated in the event where they had to show off their balancing skills despite the on and off rain. More than 100 people showed up to support a team or to just watch the fun unravel.

“Every year is great,” said Greg Brow, the manager at Ethel’s Lounge. “These people, all the servers, bartenders and cooks and everyone who works in the restaurant industry, they go above what they normally do and raise extra money for a good charity.”

According to Brow, Ethel’s has been putting on this event for about 13 years and hopes to continue it in future years. For the past four years, Ethel’s has chosen the MS Society of Canada as their choice of charity, with Brow noting that they have given close to $70,000 so far.

“Today is always a success. If you can raise more money than what they had, it’s always good. Whether it’s $100 or $10,000,” Brow added, noting that he’d love to have the event expand.

“I’d love to shut down King Street here and have about 50 bars and restaurants [participate],” he said.

This year also saw many new faces at the event. Brad Cossaboom, the manager at the Boston Pizza at Northfield and King St., brought two teams to the event and said he would do it again next year.

“Good cause, lots of fun, fun to watch,” he said.

Penny Burton, the regional director at the Waterloo chapter of the MS Society of Canada, grateful for the effort put in by many of the participants.

Ethel’s Lounge and Duke of Wellington were the finalists in the tournament. (Photo by Justin Smirlies)

“It’s a great fundraiser, it gets the community together and it gets that spirit of competitiveness within the restaurants. It’s a fun thing to do,” she said, adding that the funds raised will be going toward tools and equipment for those suffering from MS in Waterloo Region.

“Canada has the highest rate of MS in the world. Every day, three new people get diagnosed with MS,” she added. “I think a really gives people with MS a sense of hope, which it is really important.”

Defending champs the Duke of Wellington lost to Ethel’s Lounge this year, which broke Ethel’s continuous streak of coming in second. But next year there may be a new contender — the MS Society of Canada.

“I’d love to try it,” laughed Burton. “Next year we’re putting a team in.”

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