Food truck rodeo raises money for Saving Eliza; organizers plan Elizapalooza for August

Columbia’s food trucks and other local food creators were not competitors for a few hours Saturday, as they came together to help a group working to save a little girl’s life.

Eliza's Army volunteers speaking to visitors at Saturday's Food Truck Rodeo fundraiser (photo by Allen Wallace).

Eliza’s Army volunteers speak to visitors at Saturday’s food truck rodeo fundraiser. (photo by Allen Wallace)

A food truck rodeo drew a steady stream of customers to the corner of Main and Lady streets, while raising money for Saving Eliza. The campaign was organized on behalf of Eliza O’Neill, a 4-year-old Columbia girl who was diagnosed last year with Sanfilippo Syndrome-Type A. The rare genetic disease is currently incurable, but researchers have discovered a potential answer. They lack funding, however, to conduct clinical trials needed to develop a cure.

Local vendors from food trucks like 2 Fat 2 Fly and The Wurst Wagon and others such as Ally & Eloise Bakeshop and Seoul Restaurant donated part of their profits Saturday afternoon to Saving Eliza, and volunteers from Eliza’s Army worked to raise awareness and collect donations.

Faith McAngus is a member of Eliza’s Army, which organizes fundraising events to help the cause. She heard about Eliza from a friend, and though she had never met the O’Neill family, she immediately wanted to help.

“I felt like God told me I needed to do something to help save her life,” McAngus said.

The cause has come a long way, raising more than a million dollars via an online campaign and thousands more through local events like Saturday. The online total is the largest ever raised through GoFundMe, but the group is still shy of their $1.8 million goal

“It’s been miraculous,” McAngus said.

They have another fundraiser one coming soon. Elizapalooza is scheduled for Aug. 23 at Saluda Shoals Park, and McAngus said Eliza’s supporters hope to make it one of their biggest events yet. The day-long event will include live music, a yard sale, vendors, lots of food and drinks and a cornhole tournament with adult and youth divisions.

McAngus said Eliza is doing well now but that most children with her disease suffer irreversible brain damage by the age of six.

“She’s so full of energy and life,” McAngus said, “But that’s the urgency. We just have to act fast.”

Vendors, sponsors, yard sale donations and cornhole participants are needed for Elizapalooza, and anyone interested in helping can email

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