AUSTIN (KXAN) — A Central Texas man and his 10-year-old German Shepherd service dog are revving to start a 1,000-mile Texas road trip Wednesday they hope to complete in one day for a good cause.
Mike Grubbs, a veteran of the U.S. Marines, and his service dog, Simon, are preparing for the 24-hour trip that will begin and end in Central Texas.
The trip, called Ride4Rite, will start Wednesday at 4 p.m. in Austin. Then the duo will make stops in Lubbock, Abilene, Midland and San Angelo before ending the trip at the Kenney Fort Pub in Round Rock at 4 p.m. Thursday.
The fundraiser will support the Scottish Rite Dyslexia Foundation of Austin, part of The Scottish Rite Learning Center of Austin. The nonprofit supports dyslexia services training for teachers and other people who help others who are reading disadvantaged, according to the foundation.
Dyslexia, which affects a person’s ability to read, affects about 20% of people, according to the Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity.
“We’re wanting to bring awareness to dyslexia and raise the needed funds for teachers’ scholarships to be able to learn better ways to service our students that have dyslexia,” Grubbs said.
Fundraiser donations can be made online at amplifyatx.org.
This isn’t Mike and Simon’s first road trip. Their first fundraiser trip was last October where a group traveled the entire Texas border. That ride was 70 hours long.
Grubbs said Simon typically sleeps and looks around during rides.
“But it’s always fun to see the reactions of kids and families through the various towns that we go through when Simon decides to pop up and show his pretty face,” he said.
Their next planned trips are to every county seat in Texas and across the 48 continuous states.
Nonprofit needs in Central Texas
The Ride4Rite starts on the first day of Amplify Austin Day, a 24-hour fundraiser that encourages donations for 700 organizations in Central Texas. The event starts Wednesday at 6 p.m. and ends Thursday at 6 p.m.
This year’s goal is to reach a $100 million fundraising total in the event’s 10 years. The total is currently $92 million.
Courtney Manuel, CEO of I Live Here I Give Here, said as the pandemic years end, local nonprofits’ needs are still high. She said organizations have pivoted, slimmed and innovated during the pandemic, but “an uphill battle” remains for nonprofits.
“As Austin continues to grow, the disparities continue to grow,” she said. “And then the pressure for the nonprofits to show up and be there is even greater.”
Donations from individuals make up a majority of the event’s giving. Corporate gifts make up about 10% of the total contributions, Manuel said.
“It’s really the individuals making the gifts that are what amplify the day,” Manuel said.
Central Texans can search the I Live Here I Give Here website to find nonprofits based on cause, location, matching opportunities or other characteristics. All nonprofits included in Amplify Austin Day are vetted in a process that starts in the fall each year, Manuel said.