Over the years Rancho Feliz has employed many different and exciting events to generate interest and donations for its various charitable projects. In addition to letter, brochure and grant solicitations, listed below are a few of the more creative projects that the Charity has sponsored:
2009 - “Ride the Rez – the Bitahochee 350”: Having raised over $750,000 in donations in the worst economy since the Great Depression, this event was Rancho Feliz’s most successful to date. 70 volunteers (40 riders including 8 Mexican riders & 30 crew members) completed their 5-day, 350-mile “Ride the Rez” fundraising mountain bike ride across the Navajo Nation. Each volunteer rider had to pay their own expenses and raise a minimum of $7,500 in donations. This Extreme Sport/Extreme Karma endurance event required 11 separate permits and approvals and was the first of its kind. The “Guardian Warrior” volunteers pedaled through the closely guarded and sacred Monument Valley, Canyon de Chelly and Hidden Painted Desert. This was a herculean effort and they were the first - they made history. The unprecedented bicycle access to these hallowed places may very well never be granted again. A documentary film of the event is now in production.
2007 - “The Last Fandango”: This 20-year anniversary Fandango celebration witnessed the unveiling of the “Knot of Eternity” bronze sculpture at the Rancho Feliz “Vecinos” community in Agua Prieta, Sonora, Mexico. This bronze monument was sculpted and installed by renowned artist, John M. Soderberg. The “Knot of Eternity” is an ancient geometric Tantric Tibetan design representing the true nature of reality - where everything is interwoven and interdependent. This is the guiding philosophy behind Rancho Feliz. Mr. Soderberg also created a maquette sized “Knot of Eternity” for individual collectors. This 75-piece, limited-edition, bronze is loaded with symbolism and the artist has generously donated his profits from the sale of these unique bronzes to the charitable programs and projects of Rancho Feliz. The “Knot of Eternity” maquettes sell for $12,800 each.
2005 - “The ‘2005 Frijole 500”: This fundraising bicycle ride was an Extreme Spot/Extreme Karma bonanza. The event included 28 American riders, 11 Mexican riders and 2 Nepalese riders, in addition to 20 support volunteers. Each volunteer rider had to pay their own expenses and raise a minimum of $7,500 in donations. The chosen course was a breathtaking (in more ways that one) 519 winding miles (including 33,060 feet in vertical elevation gain) from Santa Fe, New Mexico to Telluride, Colorado. With Fall colors in vivid splendor, this Ride rivaled any of the extreme sporting events that Rancho Feliz has sponsored to date. The event generated widespread awareness and raised over $600,000 in donations to fund Rancho Feliz’s charitable projects.
2004 - “Free Santa Ride ‘2004”: Reports were confirmed that Santa Claus was arrested for trying to cross into the country of Mexico undocumented. This rather bizarre twist in international politics found Santa in jail and deserving children and senior citizens without holiday gifts. On October 15th – 100 Rancho Feliz “Guardian Warriors” joined forces and were deputized to spring Santa from the Cananea Jail and restore Christmas to the abandoned children and elderly. A great time was had by all.
2003 - “Guardian Warrior Fandango ‘2003”: This event centered around a motorcycle tour and a “Christmas in October” afternoon of gift giving. In Agua Prieta a police escort led our Guardian Warriors “parade style” to the La Divina Providencia shelter. Here an afternoon of games and fun were shared between the Rancho Feliz volunteers and the abandoned children from the 4 separate shelters that Rancho Feliz currently supports. The action packed afternoon was followed by one of Rancho Feliz’s legendary “Fandangos” culminating with the raffling off of a Harley Davidson motorcycle and many other unique items.
2002 - “Tour de El Tigre”: This event included a 205-mile, 5-day Mountain Bike Ride thru the secret canyons of the Mexican Sierra Madres. 36 courageous bicycle riders (including 15 Mexican riders) rode where only Geronimo and his lost band of Apaches had traveled before. This 5-day biking odyssey thru northern Mexico’s most remote wilderness included a support staff of an additional 35 volunteers for a total of 71 participants. The unique event generated widespread awareness and raised over $350,000 in donations to fund Rancho Feliz’s charitable projects.
2000 - “Herb Drinkwater Cadillac Raffle”: This fundraiser was the raffling of the signature red Cadillac convertible of Herb Drinkwater, Scottsdale’s late and much beloved Mayor. This fundraiser and related events brought in $88,000.
1999 - “Raffle ‘Way of the Warrior’ Bronze”: This fundraiser consisted of the raffling of the life-sized “Way of the Warrior” bronze, by renowned sculptor John Soderberg. This raffle raised $60,000.
1998 - “Biking Thru Borders”: 30 volunteers bicycled 9 days and 850 miles from Salem, Utah to Agua Prieta, Mexico to raise money to fund various projects. Donors were encouraged to pledge for each mile completed. $120,000 was raised from this event.
1998 - “Orphan Aid ‘98”: A live charity concert was held at the Cajun House in Scottsdale. Several musical bands donated their time for an evening of dance and cheer. The $8,000 raised was used to fund the roof at the Exchange Dormitory.
1997 - “The Way of the Warrior”: World-renowned sculptor, John M. Soderberg created a 75-piece limited edition bronze specifically for Rancho Feliz. This unique, life-sized bronze sculpture represents the giver-receiver philosophy of Rancho Feliz. Mr. Soderberg has graciously donated all artist’s profits to Rancho Feliz. To date 18 of the 75 have been sold. This unique sculpture is currently selling for $18,500. A Maquette version of this bronze is also available for $2,900.
1997 - “The Run Across Arizona”: 10 volunteers and 4 Tarahumara Indian runners ran a 678-mile, 114-hour “non stop” relay from Kanab, Utah to Agua Prieta, Mexico. Donors were encouraged to pledge for each mile run. $160,000 was raised from this event.
1995 - “The Great Harley Davidson Raffle”: $80,000 was raised in ticket proceeds by raffling off a Harley Davidson motorcycle, a bronze sculpture by John Soderberg and several other prizes.
1992 - "Ride Shotgun on the Verde Canyon Railroad": $22,000 was raised when 250 guests boarded the standard gauge Railroad for the historic 40-mile journey. Snaking its way precariously through the Verde River Canyon/Sycamore Wilderness area, the train stopped for a sumptuous western Bar-B-Q and lots of dancing on the banks of the scenic river. A grand time was had by all as the full moon guided the train safely back down the Valley.
1991 - "Harley Motorcycle Toy Run": The first of several Christmas Harley Toy Runs into Mexico. Santa Clause himself and 50 frolicking Elves roared across the border on their Harley "sleds" bringing hundreds of gifts and good cheer to the shelters. It is a touching scene to see the small homeless children clutching their shiny new toys and looking up in wonder at the white bearded man in the big red suit. Santa’s thunderous arrival is truly a miracle to them.
1990 - "Outlaw Round-Up, Lynching, Steak Fry & Desperado Dance": 140 guests were ceremoniously deputized after which they mounted horses and bravely ventured deep into the Arizona mountains in search of an elusive band of desperadoes. The gang was finally corralled and swift western justice was administered. The ensuing celebration included lots of food, drink, laughter, dancing, shoot-outs and good fellowship. This unique event generated $15,000 in donations.
1989 - "Clarence Sweeney Memorial Halloween Bash": $8,000 was generated when 150 guests were bussed up to the ghost town of Jerome, Arizona for a Halloween costume, dinner and dance party in the town's abandoned and very scary "Haunted Hospital". Many strange events occurred and sightings of Clarence Sweeny's ghost were reported throughout the evening.
1987 - "Thanksgiving Sharing": Gil and Troy Gillenwater donated $2,000 for the purchase of staple foods. These goods were individually packaged and personally distributed by the brothers on Thanksgiving Day throughout the poorest sections of several Arizona/Mexico border towns. This event was to mark the beginning of their “Rancho Feliz” work in Mexico.