To celebrate the conclusion of its first Qmmunity program, Qdoba Mexican Grill announced that Emily DuBois, a 20-year-old native of St. Louis attending Regis University in Denver, is the winner of the inaugural contest. DuBois has battled ulcerative colitis, a chronic digestive disease, for the past two years and gained strength from the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA). In return, she led fundraising and awareness efforts for the organization, serves on its National Youth Leadership Council that helps build awareness across the country, and volunteered many hours of her time providing hope, comfort, and inspiration to patients battling the same disease.

Because of DuBois’ efforts, Qdoba awarded a $5,000 donation to CCFA, DuBois’s charity of choice, and a Starlight Children’s Foundation Fun Center mobile entertainment unit donated to a hospital on Starlight’s wait list in or near St. Louis—all part of the grand prize of Qdoba’s Qmmunity campaign.

The award came as a result of Qdoba’s recently launched online campaign called Qmmunity, which helped shine the light on community stars by allowing visitors to nominate community heroes online and then rally their friends and the community to vote for them.

In addition to awarding DuBois the grand prize, Qdoba also donated $25,000 to Starlight. Qdoba committed to donating $1 to Starlight for every action visitors took on the Qmmunity site up to $25,000, including submitting a nomination, voting for a nominee, Tweeting about a nominee, posting about the program on Facebook, and making a public pledge. The campaign, which lasted from October 14 through November 1, received more than 250 nominations and more than 57,000 votes.

The launch of Qmmunity marked Qdoba’s first national campaign with Starlight. In 2008, Qdoba selected Starlight as the company’s national charity partner. Starlight is an international charity dedicated to helping seriously ill children and their families cope with their pain, fear, and isolation through entertainment, education, and family activities.

“We are delighted to donate $25,000 to Starlight and support their efforts in brightening the lives of seriously ill children, and we are equally pleased to honor Emily DuBois, who is truly a bright star in the Denver and St. Louis communities,” says Gary Beisler, president and CEO of Qdoba Mexican Grill. “Since we opened our first restaurant in 1995, our team members have demonstrated a passion for giving back to guests and to the communities in which Qdoba operates. We hope to continue honoring local heroes on our Qmmunity Web site and help brighten the lives of people throughout the country.”

The four runners-up on Qdoba’s Qmmunity site, as voted on by visitors to the site, will receive a Qdoba Card pre-loaded with one free entrée per week for an entire year. These runners-up include: Christopher Jones of Crofton, Maryland; Donna Sunderdick of Columbia, Maryland; Jessica Rothgerber Murr of Louisville, Kentucky; and Tucker Armstrong of Midlothian, Virginia. Qdoba is working on developing the next iteration of the Qmmunity program and hopes to launch it in early 2010 to again recognize local heroes.

“The success of Qmmunity is so exciting,” says Starlight’s CEO Paula Van Ness. “It was inspiring to read stories of the everyday stars from communities across the country and to see so many individuals participate in the campaign. Congratulations to Emily, an amazing young woman. By being awarded a Fun Center for a hospital in her hometown, she will bring smiles to the faces of children who need it.”

“On behalf of the 1.4 million Americans living with Crohn’s and colitis, I want to congratulate Emily on being named the Qmmunity Star and thank her for choosing CCFA as her charity of choice,” says Richard Geswell, president of the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America. “We are lucky to have this extraordinary individual as a member of our National Youth Leadership Council. She exemplifies leadership in her dedication and drive in making a difference in people’s lives affected with Crohn’s and colitis.”

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