Journal Entry # 02
The Ride Is On!
March 7, 2004
It's official: Max & Bailey love riding in their new Harley-Davidson sidecars. They're turning heads everywhere as they roll down the highway wearing their cool-looking goggles. In only two-weeks of practice riding in the North Carolina area, our exposure has been HUGE with television and newspaper reporters calling for interviews. And, if this is any indication of how much attention we'll receive once our 25,000-mile journey across America begins on May 1st, then this little charity of ours is about to make a big difference in the lives of millions of people living with physical disabilities. Yes folks, the ride is definitely ON!
This winter simply roared past us while we spent long hours working with businesses, other charities and a tremendous number of volunteers to turn this novel idea of ours into something bigger than any of us imagined. We've negotiated partnerships with four corporate sponsors and are currently on the hunt for food and lodging sponsors. If you know someone in the hotel or restaurant business - talk to them about this project. We need more places to eat and sleep, and they will receive some well-deserved recognition for their generosity.
We've also grown our number of charity partners from our original two partners to a total of five. Paws With A Cause® will be our primary partner receiving 70% of all our fundraising proceeds. The remaining 30% will be divided among minority partners selected from the Guide and Assistance Dog community. Four minority partners have already been selected: Canine Partners For Life, Guiding Eyes For The Blind, KSDS, Inc. and New Life Mobility Assistance Dogs. We are still looking for another 5-10 qualified minority partners from around the country to round out our team. If you would like to recommend a high-quality organization that trains and places Guide or Assistance Dogs to assist people with disabilities, have them contact us about becoming a charity partner.
And while Max & Bailey certainly steal the show with their Red-Baron good looks in the sidecars, it is our volunteers and generous donors from across America that have been the real heroes in this project. First there was Robin Ross and Chad Cleveringa from Ann Arbor Michigan, who made an extremely generous financial donation to U.S. Hogs For Dogs, Inc. and have been sharing our message with their friends, neighbors, and professional peers.
Then came the puppy raisers from KSDS, Inc., one of our charity partners located in Washington, Kansas. Jennifer Blair and Rita Wilson wouldn't rest until we agreed to stop by and see them for a big barbecue party when we passed through their area. And well, food is one of our greatest weaknesses, so we naturally had to agree. They've continued to be a supportive group by sharing their puppy raising stories and spreading the word about this little idea called U.S. Hogs For Dogs, Inc. Through them, we met Jane Bessert - Director of Sales for the beautiful Historic Plains Hotel in Cheyenne, Wyoming - who offered their hotel as our base of operations while we are in the Wyoming area. The list of volunteers goes on and on with names like: Beth Casells, Bob & Liz Weiler, Peggy Zionts, Penny Zibula, Cynthia Glincher and many more. The number of volunteers and donors is growing each day and we thank each and every one of you for your support.
One supporter's efforts have gone so far above and beyond that we think he deserves special mention. Tom and Lynda Molter, from Three Rivers, Michigan, are puppy raisers for Paws With A Cause® who heard about U.S. Hogs For Dogs, Inc. through one of the PAWS® newsletters. After reading the newsletter, Tom immediately contacted us about setting up a small benefit ride in Michigan. Well, that small benefit ride has turned into a statewide awareness campaign with events on the state capital lawn, a check presentation at the PAWS® headquarters and police escorts into and out-of several cities. There's even talk of having several hundred motorcycle riders meet us at the Ohio/Michigan border to escort us into Michigan. That's pretty impressive for less than a week of his time. So, if you're in Michigan on July 24, 2004, look for the Hogs For Dogs team with Tom and Lynda Molter leading the charge.
Our Board of Directors is also growing with the addition of several talented professionals from a variety of backgrounds. We found a CPA for our Executive Board in Terry O'Malley out of Houston, Texas and our General Board of Directors is now made up of five highly-motivated individuals: Mary Ann Tormey, Amanda MacDowell, Jan Santel, Sherry Dodson and Max & Bailey's lifetime veterinarian, Melissa Hudson. We're still looking for a few more General Board members who are highly motivated and willing to go the extra mile to help U.S. Hogs For Dogs, Inc. and the millions of people with disabilities that could benefit from an Assistance Dog.
What's on the horizon for U.S. Hogs For Dogs? The answer in one word: PLENTY! Our events calendar on the website is beginning to grow. We will make a three-day practice run to the North Carolina's Outer Banks on April 9-11. Then we host our first charity event in Raleigh, North Carolina on April 23rd: a silent and live charity auction event that we're calling 'A Tail Wagging Affair.' The morning after the charity auction, we'll have a large information booth at Ray Price Harley-Davidson - our largest sponsor - for their spring Open House with between 5,000 and 8,000 people expected to attend. And on Saturday, May 1st, Ray Price Harley-Davidson is throwing a farewell party and hosting our 'Get Outta Town' ride, the first ride of Max & Bailey's 25,000-mile journey. There will be free food & drinks, music, special storewide sales for ride participants, a 50/50 raffle and a wide variety of door prizes. Of course, we'll have our official U.S. Hogs For Dogs, Inc. logo gear on sale and plenty of informational materials about our ride, our charity partners and those who will benefit from our efforts.
So, now you're up to date. Max & Bailey's Ride Across America is set to start in less than two months. Who could have guessed that the family vacation we began planning back in 2003 would become a national grass roots charity movement aimed at helping millions of Americans? I guess what they say is true: "All great things start with the smallest ideas and the largest imagination." Max, Bailey, Janet and I want to thank each of you for your generosity and support. And if you aren't involved already, today is the perfect time to make a donation or sign on as a volunteer.
Let the ride begin.
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