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Mr. July

click to enlarge KATHY CONARRO

The main event might have been the chili, but a big draw undoubtedly was the beefcake.

Last weekend's downtown Fire Fighter Chili Cook-Off raised $8,500 for the fight to cure muscular dystrophy; organizer Scott Reiman, above, says nearly $1,000 of that came from the take-your-picture-with-a-firefighter booth. The guys offered shirts-on and shirts-off options, and a few of the exclusively female customers actually picked the former.

"We live in a conservative town," Reiman noted.

The chili was yummy too. Eighteen teams of firefighters from as far away as Avon and Black Hawk brought their best recipes for the third annual cook-off, which drew more than 10,000 people. Colorado Springs Station 4B, at Lake Avenue and Southgate Boulevard, won best overall chili and raised the most money.

Reiman works out of Station 8A at Airport and Chelton roads, and this year his crew won the red and green chili categories. But, he said, "The judges were overly impressed with all of them. This isn't just grabbing cans of Hormel off the shelf and adding a few spices; these are recipes any top-notch chef would be proud to serve."

The International Association of Firefighters' commitment to curing muscular dystrophy was born in Boston 50 years ago, when a desperate couple went to their neighborhood station and asked if they could get a wheelchair for their stricken son. The firefighters cooked up the idea of taking their boots to the streets and asking people to fill them with cash.

In September, Reiman, who is 34 and single, will raise money for another cause. He's one of 15 men -- and the only local -- who'll grace the annual "Fired Up for Kids" extended-year calendar of Colorado firefighters to benefit the Children's Hospital Burn Unit.

"I don't know which month I'll be yet," he said, "but everyone has labeled me Mr. July at the station."

-- by Cara DeGette

photo by Kathy Conarro

To place an advance order for a calendar, call Reiman at 596-4618.

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