Fundraising is kind of a hobby for Houston’s 67-year-old Kip Othold. Each year, he raises thousands of dollars through selling his homemade cocktail cakes and by taking part in charity cycling events throughout Texas.
“I’ve always been a top fundraiser,” he said recently, explaining that most of his efforts have centered on raising money for Multiple Sclerosis research with the MS150 rides and the American Red Cross. “But then I started thinking maybe there’s more I could be doing.”
So Othold set out on a mission, looking for another cause he could help support. And that’s when he discovered Houston’s Paws for Heroes, an organization dedicated to saving shelter dogs, training them and then pairing them up with veterans suffering from PTSD.
“The people just love it. So, I said, this is my connection. This is what I want to do to help veterans.”
Othold liked that the operation was local. He liked that it saves dogs. And as a man who served in the U.S. Air Force for four years, he especially liked that Paws for Heroes helps veterans.
“Veteran suicide is a huge issue that deserves more attention. Each day, 22 veterans on average in this country commit suicide because of PTSD,” he said. “It strikes a chord with me because, No. 1, I served during the Vietnam Era. I’m very pro-military, and so are my wife and family. We all have a connection to the military.”
On April 1, Othold sets out on the biggest cycling trek of his life, 1,800 miles in 29 days from San Diego back home to Houston. His goal is to raise awareness and money for veteran PTSD and the tragic outcome it sometimes leads to. The money he raises will all go to Paws for Heroes.
He’s already got a great start on the fundraising, he said, raising more than $26,000 for the organization through the sale of his Kip’s Cocktail Cakes and small stuffed animal dogs called Battle Buddies. He hopes his cycling journey will raise even more.
“I thought people would pony up more,” he said with a laugh. “It’s not a two-day ride, after all.”
Othold said he’s been riding for about seven years and journeyed more than 9,000 miles in his efforts to raise money. He knows the journey this time won’t be easy.
“I’ll have to deal with April rain, the mountains in California and sand storms in Arizona and New Mexico,” he said. “And it’s going to be like ‘Groundhog Day (the movie)’—same thing day after day. I’ll have to just keep getting back on that bike and riding it out. It’s not about how fast you can do it. It’s about what you can do for someone else.”