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'Paying it forward': Milly Chili cookoff in Milledgeville for rare syndrome

Andre Williams is a Milledgeville native, and he's throwing this event to raise awareness and money for a good cause.

MILLEDGEVILLE, Ga. — This week, there's something different for Milledgeville's First Friday. They're having a chili cooking competition called ‘Milly Chili’.

13WMAZ’s Jessica Cha tells us more about the man running it, and the crisis that inspired him to create the event in this story that comes straight from the heart.

Andre Williams is a Milledgeville native, and he's throwing this event to raise awareness and money for a good cause. 

"I thought it was the end for me, especially when I saw my skin start to peel,” Williams explains. 

You wouldn't be able to tell today, but Andre Williams used to suffer from Stevens-Johnson syndrome. A skin disorder that he says made his body feel like it was on fire.

"You have this allergic reaction to a drug that your body is allergic to and it causes your skin to slough off, and it literally causes you to burn from the inside out,” he says. 

Williams says he took an antibiotic after a surgery in 2017 and, soon after, he started to feel flu-like symptoms. When we arrived at the hospital, he said he felt sluggish and was trembling. The next day he broke out into blisters that took his skin with it.

"It was saddening to hear that it was the worst case of the Stevens-Johnson's which was the TENs [Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis] when you have over 30% of the body burned, and in my case, it was over 85% of my body.”

Williams says at his worst, he had issue with his eyes, his mouth bled, he lost his sense of taste, and had to get multiple skin grafts. Even after 5 years, he's still recovering today.

Although it's rare, Williams says it can happen to anyone. That's why he’s putting on events like ‘Milly Chili’.

"I'm sharing my story so that someone can either, A: be uplifted, and motivated and encouraged. B: educating themselves on-- just educating yourself on what medication you're taking," Williams said.

‘Milly Chili’ is just one of 4 events Williams is planning with his friends to donate money earned to the JMS Burn Center in Augusta. It is the same one that treated his own burns. 

"Where we're donating is basically housing for burn victim's families. They're solely run off of donations, so it was a great thing to not just help a burn victim that's like myself, that went through Stevens-Johnson syndrome, but to help all burn survivors,” he explains. 

Williams will also be putting on The Color Purple Musical on Saturday, August 13-14, a drag show on August 20 at 10 p.m., and a work out dance class on August 28 at 6 p.m.

After paying vendors, all the money will be put towards paying it forward to those like Williams. 

There will be 14 chili chefs competing in the competition, and the public is welcome to come judge the chili for themselves for only a dollar. 

There will also be snacks, games, and a DJ.

It will be located at the Pavilion on East Hancock Street from 6-8 p.m. 

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