Tim Pregler is part backyard-barbecue-professor, part wood-fired charity coordinator. A 57-year old tech consultant from Fort Worth, he founded the Karma Que charitable barbecue collective in 2012 with help from his wife Kim. Three years later, Karma Que consists of three competitive barbecue teams that raise money at cook-offs and tailgates across the state.
Karma Que most recently cooked in February's World's Championship Bar-B-Que cook-off at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, raising money for an FFA charity called Ram's Club. One of Karma Que's four entrants, under head cook Steve Blount, took second runner-up (third place overall) in the Chicken category and second runner-up overall in the event that drew 419 barbecue entries this year.
And he did it with a borrowed grill, some $1.99 chicken and donated rubs and sauce.
But Karma Que isn't about notoriety. It's about fundraising. No profits come with membership, because every penny above cost goes to charity. Pregler said last week that he had just cut a $13,000 check to Camp Craig Allen stemming from catering private events, and the collective's most seasonal venture, selling Easter hams (get yours for a $70 donation here - there are several Metroplex pickup locations).
Pregler got involved with Camp Craig Allen after competing in its 2008 BBQ Cookoff & Festival, where he earned his team's first-ever win in its first-ever competitive entry. "We were hooked after that," Pregler said.
Camp Craig Allen is a 501(c)(3) foundation that was founded in 2006 and is dedicated to the "overlooked" physically disabled children and adults of North Texas. Camp sessions, which include archery, basketball, swimming, fishing and other water sports take place at the YMCA's Collin County Adventure Camp in Anna, but the board is on a mission to build a permanent community around its campers, with eyes on Frisco as a potential home for the camp.
"To see all the empty chairs when the campers are all in the pool, it tugs at your heart strings," Pregler said.
Pregler and the other board members envision a completely barrier-free facility (Collin County Adventure Camp suffices for now but is not completely barrier free) containing a health care conference center, an adaptive sports complex and a housing development, among other amenities. But perhaps most importantly, they want a camp where participants cannot "age out."
Camp Craig Allen's founder and president, Dawn Cruzan, named the camp for her brother Craig Allen Cruzan, who attended a Muscular Dystrophy camp during the summers until he reached 21, when he was too old to continue attending. Craig Allen passed away in 1989 at the age of 22.
Now, Pregler's Karma Que meat consortium is one stream of revenue for the camp that hopes that no camper will age out of its rich programs that teach independence and build character in those North Texas residents confined to a chair for any reason, be it an injury or an illness or condition. Pregler said that although KarmaQue itself is not a 501(c)(3) entity, the team has gotten in the good habit of donating somewhere in the neighborhood of $10-$20,000 annually, primarily to Camp Craig Allen.
Karma Que will make its sliced and shredded delicacies available at two upcoming Metroplex cook-offs: the Colleyville Old Tyme Cook Off, April 24-25, which benefits Special Olympics Texas, and at Camp Craig Allen's 8th Annual BBQ Cookoff & Festival, June 12-13 at Frisco's Toyota Stadium.
Oh, and Pregler's favorite Metroplex barbecue joint? Take a jaunt out to Saginaw's Texas Pit Bar-B-Q on Saginaw Blvd.