With a fresh coat of paint and a restored voice, the Happy Chef Statue outside the restaurant on U.S. 169 in Mankato is greeting customers Thursday for an event that’s been embraced by dozens of local dining establishments – Stick a Fork in Cancer. (Listen here: 20180913 Happy Chef Cancer 1)

There are 28 local restaurants participating in the event, donating a portion of their proceeds to benefit the Jonathan Zierdt Cancer Fund, American Cancer Society, and LIVESTRONG at the YMCA.

Happy Chef owner Adrian Swales said it was important for him to participate and support local cancer survivors. “All of the money stays local within the community. It’s not going all over the place,” he said, “We know that it’s going to stay within the community, with the people that are in the Mankato area.”

The first-ever event last year raised more than $27,000 and the goal this year is to top that. Swales said it’s a goal he supports wholeheartedly because, “I feel like every one of us has known someone who has fought cancer and it’s important to be a part of.”

Also participating in Stick a Fork in Cancer are Dinos Pizza, Eagles, Number 4, Tav on the Ave, Busters Sports Bar & Grill, Buffalo Wild Wings, Olives, Pub 500, SUBWAY, Cold Stone Creamery, Culvers , Dunkin’ Donuts, HyVee Downtown, HyVee Hilltop, Jakes Stadium Pizza, Jonny B’s, Massads, McDonalds, NaKato, Pagliai’s Pizza, Pappageorge, Pizza Ranch, Rounders, Spinners, Tandem Bagels, Ummies Bar & Grill, and Wow! Zone.