The Truck That Keeps on Giving
Ken Rodriguez is a San Antonio native who covered his first Spurs game in 1981 for The Daily Texan, the University of Texas student newspaper. He spent 26 years in the newspaper business -- 21 of them covering sports -- before joining the marketing department at Our Lady of the Lake University in 2009. His Spurs.com column will appear every Wednesday.
What would happen if you asked Tim Duncan’s Blackjack Speed Shop to customize a 2013 Dodge Ram 1500 4x4?
The truck would emerge like nothing you’ve ever seen -- and impact the community like you couldn’t imagine.
The two tone vehicle -- painted white and silver -- is one-of-a kind. It not only has a six-inch lift and 35-inch tires, a custom bumper and chrome mesh grille, a 20-inch LED driving light and AMP Research electric-powered running boards. It’s got a hood cowl wrapped and signed by the 2012-13 Spurs roster.
It’s a truck lover’s dream. The best part is this: it’s been making a lot of other dreams come true throughout the San Antonio community. The vehicle, donated by North Star Dodge, has been sold and given away multiple times to benefit three charities and will benefit a fourth in April. If the fundraising goes according to plan, the truck will generate more than $250,000.
“It’s fairly common to go to an auction, buy a vehicle and donate it to charity,” says HOLT Companies Executive Vice President Larry Mills, whose company purchased the truck for $60,000 before giving it away. “But no one has heard of anything like this before -- where a vehicle has gone from one charity to another and then to another. It’s unique.”
A quick history: Spurs coach Gregg Popovich bought the truck at the annual Tux & Tennies Gala, which benefits Silver & Black Give Back, Spurs Sports & Entertainment’s non-profit. Pop then donated it to Clarity Child Guidance Center, which provides mental health care for children.
HOLT CAT purchased the truck at the Clarity Child Guidance Center Gala and gave it to the Children’s Hospital of San Antonio (CHSA). Rat Hole Drilling then bought the truck from CHSA and donated it to St. Jude’s Ranch for Children, a local charity caring for abused and at-risk children.
The total raised, to date, for three charities: $182,500. The fundraising goal for St. Jude’s Ranch is another $100,000. The Texas Corvette Association is taking the truck to events across South and Central Texas to sell raffle tickets to benefit St. Jude’s Ranch. The raffle drawing will be held on April 26, 2014 at the Texas Corvette Association’s annual car show in Boerne, TX.
“I’m very optimistic we will reach our $100,000 goal,” Mills says. “It’s an awesome feeling.”
The multiple-auction-donation idea came to Mills after Pop purchased the Dodge Ram for $62,500. Once Pop said he intended to donate the truck to the Clarity Child Guidance Center auction, Mills wondered: “Who do I know that might be a high bidder and might be willing to send the truck off to another charity like the Children’s Hospital of San Antonio?”
Mills asked the owner of HOLT CAT. Peter Holt said, “Great idea.” Holt won the truck with a $60,000 bid and donated it to Children’s Hospital. Next, Larry made the pitch to his brother, Gary, CEO of Rat Hole Drilling. Gary loved the idea, Rat Hole Drilling bought the truck for $60,000 and gave it to the charity Larry had targeted all along -- St. Jude’s Ranch for Children.
St. Jude’s Ranch serves abused, abandoned and neglected youth with extraordinary results. One hundred percent of their high school students graduate. Many go on to college. Others learn life skills and secure good jobs. Some children arrive with particular social and emotional challenges due to the abuse they have suffered and are placed in a Specialized program.
One product of that program is an elementary school-aged girl who arrived with aggressive tendencies that might otherwise have placed her in a psychiatric or intensive lockdown facility. At St. Jude’s Ranch, the girl learned to manage her behavior. Says Erika Boyd, St. Jude’s Ranch Director of Development, “She is now on a path to being adopted and having a ‘forever family.’”
The success of St. Jude’s Ranch appealed to Larry Mills as did one long-time supporter: The Texas Corvette Association (TCA). The TCA holds annual raffles to benefit St. Jude’s Ranch. Hundreds of members sell tickets to benefit the children.
“The Corvette Club can take the car to different places and events and sell tickets,” Larry says. “Other charities don’t have a staff of hundreds of members to help. But the Corvette Club sells tickets before and after games and car shows. It’s a great mechanism to raise money.”
The Corvette Club will be selling tickets -- $10 for one, $50 for seven, $100 for 15 -- through April 26. The truck will be displayed next -- and raffle tickets sold -- at the San Antonio Rodders Annual Custom Car Show on Sept. 22 at Comanche Park. The vehicle will also be displayed at the North Star Dodge dealership in San Antonio in October and featured at the San Antonio Auto & Truck Show from November 21-24.
“We have wonderful Spurs fans in our community and I think the truck will create a lot of interest, not just for our Spurs fans but for the charitable cause,” Larry says. “St. Jude’s Ranch cares for children whose parents are in jail, have abandoned them or are abusive. Some show up with just the clothes on their back, without any of the necessities of life. One hundred thousand dollars will make a huge difference for these precious children.”