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Taking big bites to help a little boy

A hot dog-eating contest in St. Petersburg benefits Josiah Wineberger, hurt when a speaker hit his head.

Published July 5, 2007

Emma Wineberger, 5, works to gulp down dogs at an annual Hot Dog Eating Contest where the profits from the event were going to her family. Emma's brother, Josiah Wineberger, suffered brain damage in February when a speaker fell from a balcony at BayWalk and crushed his head. Emma, who did not place in the event, managed to eat seven hot dogs but left the majority of the buns behind.
[Times photo: Dirk Shadd]

She took her seat next to the big boys with a look of determination on her face, even though at 5 years old she was the only contestant whose feet didn't reach the ground.

She never flinched as the cameras flashed around her. She kept eating until she had consumed all seven hot dogs placed before her, only not the buns.

"I wanted to win, " Emma Wineberger said Wednesday after competing. "But I didn't want to eat the buns."

She was the smallest competitor at the annual Fourth of July hot dog-eating contest at Dairy Inn. But she and her older brother Michael, 12, had the biggest reason to want to win.

Josiah Wineberger, their younger brother, is the 3-year-old boy who was seriously injured in February when a speaker fell on his head at the BayWalk shopping complex in downtown St. Petersburg. Although Emma lost to another youth who wolfed down 7 3/4 hot dogs, including buns, all knew they were competing to help Josiah.

David Kornbluth, who recently bought the Dairy Inn on Ninth Street in north St. Petersburg with his wife, Julie, donated proceeds from the event to the Wineberger family.

"This year we really wanted to help someone, " he said. "After I saw Josiah's picture, I thought there is someone that people have forgot."

But people did not forget. More than 50 came out to support his cause, including the Wineberger family.

"It's amazing, " said John Wineberger, Josiah's father.

[Last modified July 5, 2007, 01:05:51]

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