In the beginning…Billie Mendoza, Paw Joggers owner and founder of the Paw Joggers Animal Community Fund, began her fundraising and philanthropy efforts through “human” charities. It all started with the inaugural running of the Cincinnati Flying Pig Marathon in 1999.  It was Billie’s first marathon, the first Flying Pig and her first time fundraising for a charity–the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training program.

Fast forward to 2009…Billie had recently retired with Delta Air Lines in November, 2008. In May, 2009, Billie “opened the doors” to Paw Joggers. While launching the new business, Billie volunteered at the local SPCA walking, running, and assisting at mobile adoption events.  One of those events happened to be the K-9 Happy Hour presented by the Accelerated Cure Project for MS. Billie’s son, Brandon, had been diagnosed with MS in 2005. She conversed with the local volunteers about the organization and gave her name should they ever need volunteers or help with events and projects.

In January of 2010 Billie was contacted by the local chapter of the Accelerated Cure Project for MS and invited to join as a volunteer.  Billie accepted and went on to assist with many great fundraising projects, including the ACP for MS Calendar for a Cause which was all about dogs; dog photos, horoscopes, treat recipes…you name it! Very appropriate tie-in to Paw Joggers! Another great project she found herself involved with was the Rusty Ball.

This, my friends, is where the entire idea of the Paw Joggers Animal Community Fund stemmed from.  The Rusty Ball was holding it’s 2nd annual event when ACP for MS became involved.  For any charity it was a no-brainer to be involved.  The Rusty Griswolds–a Cincinnati, 80’s cover band–wanted to benefit local charitable groups, but didn’t have the time to respond to all the requests. The idea of one annual event, benefiting many charities, was spawned by the Spirit of Cincinnatus in colaboration with the Rusty Griswolds.

This annual event allowed local charities to enroll as beneficiaries.  Event tickets were then sold allowing purchasers to select the charity they wanted to benefit from their attendance.  The Spirit of Cincinnatus planned and executed the entire event–no small feat indeed! All benefiting charities needed to do was spread the word and have people select their charity as the beneficiary when buying tickets.  The more tickets purchased, the more that charity benefited. There were many other ways to go above and beyond those levels, but for charities with limited resources and volunteers, this was golden!

Ever since that event, Billie has had the idea of holding a charitable event with the same concept as the Rusty Ball, but tailoring it to benefit the animal welfare community through an athletic event.  Paw Joggers is always generous in helping rescues, shelters, and advocacy groups, but this just made too much sense in helping as many as possible at one time.

So, after years of allowing this to swirl through her head and verbalizing to many, the plan is finally being executed!  The first step was forming a charitable organization that could manage the funds and be fully disclosed to those donated–separate from Paw Joggers. This was the founding of the Paw Joggers Animal Community Fund. The second step was planning the first event–a run/walk event of course!  What better planners for a run event than runners themselves.

So Paw Joggers Animal Community Fund has been founded, the event is being executed and we give credit to where credit is due…thank you Spirit of Cincinnatus for your BRILLIANT idea and success! The Spirit of Cincinnatus has won national awards for their fundraising abilities, creative events and overall success.  We’re proud to be in your local company!

Read more about the successes and awards here: http://www.spiritofcincinnatus.org/

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