DESTIN — A celebration of life fundraiser will be held for Joel Iral, a longtime employee of Ruth's Chris Steak House and Jim 'N Nicks Bar-B-Q who was killed in a vehicle-involved scooter accident March 27.

Ruth’s Chris Steak House will host the event in its Courtyard Bar and Terrace on May 14 from 6 to 9 p.m.

Originally from the Philippines, Iral had worked for Jim ‘N Nicks Bar-B-Q for 10 years and was the first employee at its Destin location in 2009. He also worked at Ruth’s Chris in the evenings. Iral leaves behind his wife, five children, two brothers, mother, and father — all of whom live in the Philippines — and his sister, who lives in England. Iral worked two jobs to support himself and all of his family members in the Philippines.

All the money donated and raised through the live and silent auctions at the fundraiser will be used to take Iral’s body back to the Philippines and to help pay for his children’s college education, something he dedicated his life to doing.

Two of his children are college while the other three have already graduated.

“He never asked for much and was always willing to give back and help others,” said Rich Rylke, owner of Jim ‘N Nicks.

Iral is remembered for his friendly nature, warm smile and authentic Filipino cooking, which he made for the Ruth’s Chris staff when they had "family meals" every Thursday night before service.

He was also named as the employee of the month in 2018. However, instead of using the awarded gift certificate for himself, he gave it to a friend who had never eaten at the restaurant. That is just one example of Iral’s giving spirit and compassion.

“You would never find him without a smile on his face, and he just had a really good soul — something that is hard to come by these days,” said Mike Sable, Ruth’s Chris’ general manager. “He will certainly be missed by the friends, staff and customers alike.”

The Joel Iral Celebration of Life fundraiser is free and open to the public.

Guests are invited to stop by and enjoy complimentary hors d'oeuvres, a silent auction, live music by Michael J. Thomas, and participate in a live auction conducted by Luxury Estates Auction Company.

Donations will be accepted throughout the night. For those who cannot attend, a GoFundMe account has been created and donations can be made at www.GoFundMe.com/JoelIral. Donations may also be dropped off at Ruth’s Chris Steak House in Destin, located at 15000 Emerald Coast Parkway across the street at Jim ‘N Nicks Bar-B-Q at 14073 Emerald Coast Parkway.