Tag Archives: smile

Vinny the Pug Champion Rock Climber

Last year I met a lot of exciting and wonderful folk making a difference in the worlds of both fundraising and innovation. However, one character in particular grabbed my attention. Perhaps because he is rather unusual….

Recently I was lucky enough to catch up with Vinny the Pug and learn a bit more about what he has been up to.

Vinny climbs rocks and fundraises for a range of causes. He lives in New Orleans, with his human Allen Kimble, Jr.  His business is headquartered in the Sonoran desert in Phoenix, Arizona.

When he first moved to Phoenix from lush and leafy Florida, Vinny was enchanted by the arid desert landscape and in particular – the boulders. One day he just started climbing. It wasn’t long before word got out and the editor of “CLIMBING” magazine contacted Vinny. From that day he was referred to as “Vinny the Pug Champion Rock Climber”.

With his new Champion Rock Climber status Vinny looked for every opportunity to hone his climbing skills and practiced daily on his training rock. In time he became so proficient that while still atop the boulder, he could turn 360 degrees without one paw ever making contact with the ground. Yes – it’s true.

Back in 2004, to showcase his climbing prowess Vinny embarked on a 1,000 pictures in 100 days boulder challenge. Vinny’s human came up with the idea and also took the photographs. At the end of three months of climbing and photographing in the Sonoran, there were well over one thousand photographs of Vinny posing on different boulders. It was a sad day when The Guinness World of Records rejected this as a world record attempt. But Vinny didn’t give up.

Vinny has used his Champion Rock Climber status to develop his own Vinny the Pug brand. Vinny trains fundraisers to use the new business sales models he has developed and provides them with Vinny the Pug branded merchandise to sell. Vinny says he has raised over $50,000 in both money and in-kind donations so far.  He raises money through online sales and through the sales via his Fundraiser Club network. His range includes Vinny the Pug t-shirts, posters, CDs, jewelry, purses, iPad covers and his own-labeled wines. The “Vinny the Pug Fundraiser Club” raises money for a number of human causes, although pet rescue is closest to Vinny’s heart.

Vinny sees his work as an opportunity to help causes to maximize their income and be more self-sufficient in their fundraising.

Vinny’s pet rescue fundraising target for 2012 is $1,000,000.  It will be divided among participating pet rescue organisations in North America.  He will soon embark on his fundraising tour of 100 U.S. and Canadian cities to recruit and train a thousand rescues to become Vinny the Pug Fundraiser Club members.

Vinnys’ top fundraising and rock climbing tips are;

  • Do what you love, and do it differently than everyone else so that there is no comparison
  • Don’t give up, every apparent failure is simply practice for better times that are just around the corner
  • Practice, there is no other road that will lead one to greatness than practice
  • Patience, there is no other vehicle that will transport one to success and ensure you’ll arrive at exactly the precise time you should
  • Climb every mountain, you’ll find success on the other side, and the view is breathtaking

Good luck Vinny – let us know how you get on.

Vinny the Pug can be contacted at:  desertpugproductions@yahoo.com.


‘hello sunshine’

Each morning I walk to work. Each morning I see the same people. Each morning I play a game to myself and try to get someone to smile, by smiling at them first. No one does. Sometimes people look at me like I’m a bit nuts and do a crooked grimace. But never any eye crinkling window to the soul smiles for me from the residents of Islington.

But, there is a small family run dry cleaners about 20 mins into my walk that is an oasis of happiness in the smile-less wilderness. Crystal Dry Cleaners. Every day the man who works there waves and smiles as I march past. He makes my day. Last week I took my dry cleaning there. It’s not very convenient but I would rather take my dry cleaning to him than anywhere else. Because he smiles and waves at me.

I’m greeted with a big smile and a cheery ‘hello sunshine – how are you?’ when I open the door. We chat easily about nothing in particular. I exchange my dirty clothes for a ticket with my name on. As I leave he calls after me “keep smiling – don’t let them grind you down Luce”.  Normally I object to people I don’t really know shortening my name but on this occasion it feels good.

When I pick up my clothes a week later he remembers my name, and what I bought in. We smile and chat again. While I’m in the shop, almost everyone that goes past waves, smiles or shouts some sort of greeting. Mark Sanborn may argue that he is a Fred. I think he just has a zest for life and loves people.

For me the experience I get from something as simple as a friendly disposition and a genuine smile inspires me and gains my loyalty.  I go out of my way to be their customer. Can your customers and donors say the same about you and your organisation?