Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A Man and His Bike Make a Difference

Steve Martin and a group of friends founded Ride 2 The Rescue, a great example of how two passions - dog rescue and bicycling - can support each other. I hope this interview inspires you to take a look at your own passions and hobbies and see how you can use them for a greater good. Here's what Steve has to say about it:

HTB: Steve, tell me a little about your history with dogs. My understanding is that you lost your dog Jake, and in looking for a new dog you came to know about Lab rescue. Was Jake a rescue? What inspired you to become passionate about Lab rescue?

SM: No, Jake wasn't a rescue, but he was probably the reason we got so involved. He had a joint disorder as a pup (an OCD in the elbow.) The breeder offered to take him back, but of course we loved him too much by then -- and all his naughtiness. So, we agreed to accept his half sister, Sadie and get him a companion. She was eight months old, sweet and they hit it off instantly.

After Jake passed some 10 years later (bad to the last, stealing paper out of the trash before our last trip to the vet!) we went looking for another dog for Sadie. From our past experience we went back to breeders looking for an adult dog -- we were done with puppies. They turned us on to Lab Rescue. It was there passion and dedication that really got us hooked. Our contact, Pam, was so concerned about us, our emotions and finding the perfect dog for our environment, we couldn't help but feel part of their "family."

We rescued Emily, a sweet chocolate girl to round out our home and be there for Sadie. And, when Sadie passed from age and complications from diabetes, we adopted Shilo.

Sadly, Emily died suddenly and too young, so we are on the lookout yet again!

HTB: What is Ride 2 The Rescue? How does it work?

SM: Ride 2 The Rescue is a group of friends who share similar passions; cycling and dogs. My friends up north convinced me to train for a long ride in the mountains of Virginia, The Mountain Mama. It ended up being the most physically challenging thing I have ever done to date. The hard part was getting fit for mountain climbs when I live in flat, coastal Florida. So I began packing on the miles. Being summer, in Florida, it was hot -- exceptionally hot. As I rode I asked myself, what are you doing this for -- this is crazy? And right then I decided I could do it if I had the right motivation. Raising money for Lab Rescue and shelters seemed the most fitting. I talked to my friends to get involved, we started writing, designing and building the web site http://www.ride2therescue.com. The Web site is basically how we raise money and awareness, aside from word of mouth and tying in with other groups. But the message is we'll do the hard part by riding the miles, you just have to donate a little for our efforts.

HTB: Do you have any plans to fundraise for other rescues, or would you recommend others set up their own ride for rescue programs if they enjoy biking and would like to support rescue?

SM: Honestly, I focus on Lab Rescue but hope that other riders might join in and expand our efforts -- it is definitely needed. We ride events for a sense of camaraderie with a cause, but I would encourage people to share in our goals or start theirs locally. Cycling events happen all across the country all year long, and if you have a passion, it is a great "vehicle" for fund raising. One event we participate in has over 6,300 riders. That is a lot of impressions to see our logo and promote our Web site.

HTB: http://www.ride2therescue.com/How successful have your efforts been to date?

Our first year we raised over $2900. The best part was I later found out that Lab Rescue was out of money and my ride saved the group and helped them rebuild. Last year was tougher for several reasons, the economy mostly so we only garnered a fraction of year one's funds. But this year's efforts have already surpassed last year and I haven't even done my "official" first event yet. That shows promise for my cause and Lab Rescue.

HTB: What do you hope is the future for Ride 2 The Rescue?

SM: I hope Ride 2 The Rescue becomes well recognized across the country and becomes a way for cyclist to ride for a reason other than themselves. I have riders that participate from Florida, to the Carolina's, DC and Minnesota. I would like to see my group help spread the wealth to other rescue groups in their respective regions.

Give us three reasons that people should adopt:

SM: First, you get a dog that is thoroughly vetted, hopefully, by a rescue group and foster. As for Lab Rescue they make sure the dog is right for us, and we are right for the dog.

Dogs have no voice, they have no choice, only destiny. By adopting you can write that destiny with a "yappy ending."

Dogs only want to love unconditionally. So with an adoption and fee, in my opinion, money can buy you love.

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