Austin Culture of Giving 2012
worth the pain

Get punched in the stomach by Jimmy Kimmel to support Austin's CTC International

Get punched in the stomach by Jimmy Kimmel to support Austin's CTC International

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Jimmy Kimmel Courtesy photo
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Malaika kids Photo by Chelsea Dee Photography
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Malaika mums Courtesy of CTC International
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Zane Wilemon and Jeremiah Kuria (US & Kenya director) Courtesy of CTC International
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Austin Photo Set: News_Shelley_CTC_jimmy kimmel_dec 2012_3
Austin Photo Set: News_Shelley_CTC_jimmy kimmel_dec 2012_2
Austin Photo Set: News_Shelley_CTC_jimmy kimmel_dec 2012_1

Who doesn't want to get punched by Jimmy Kimmel on air for supporting local Austin non-profit Comfort The Children (CTC) International?

CTC has partnered with Kimmel and Mozilla Firefox, through Crowdrise, in a contest to raise the most money for charity — and in the process, the opportunity to win an additional $50,000 from Mozilla.

The celebrity challenge that includes Jonah Hill, Will Ferrell, Sophia Bush, Seth Rogen, Kristen Bell and a host of others who are supporting their favorite charities.

By donating at least $33 to Kimmel's Crowdrise campaign, you are entered in the chance to win VIP Green Room access for you and five friends to Jimmy Kimmel Live in Hollywood — and Kimmel will punch the friend of your choice in the stomach. 

This whole thing came about because Kimmel is a friend of Austinite Zane Wilemon, founder of CTC International, a community of people working diligently to create solutions and opportunities for a better life in Kenya. You can read more about the organization in a previous profile story we ran back in February.

Kimmel's fiance and senior writer for his show, Molly McNearney, is a friend of Wilemon's from college. She'd been involved with CTC and gone on their volunteer trips to Kenya when she started working on Jimmy Kimmel Live.

The show took an interest in the organization, and soon Kimmel did personally as well. Soon Kimmel was a monthly CTC donor, and he and Wilemon got to be buddies. But Kimmel was interested in doing more.

Enter Crowdrise, a unique blend of online fundraising, crowdsourcing, social networking, contests and "other nice stuff," according to the website. Actor Edward Norton is one of the Crowdrise founders — and as it so happens, a friend of Kimmel's as well.

 "Zane is very passionate about creating sustainable change in an area that desperately needs it. So passionate that we couldn't help but get involved." - Jimmy Kimmel

Soon the "Jimmy Kimmel will punch you in the stomach" contest was born, and as of December 23 has raised more than $40,000 and taken the easy lead in the Mozilla competition.

"Zane is very passionate about creating sustainable change in an area that desperately needs it," Kimmel says. "So passionate that we couldn't help but get involved. CTC is an organization that empowers the people it helps with job creation, not handouts. The volunteers live in and are fully invested in the community. CTC isn't handing out money. They are handing out tools and the skills needed to use those tools."

"This is huge, because it's the first time Jimmy has gone public with his involvement with CTC," says Wilemon. If CTC wins, the organization plans to use the money for education initiatives. "This is a fun, easy way to take a step into the CTC community and get involved so we can help more people."

It's also one of many ways that CTC is recognizing their 10-year anniversary of taking volunteer teams to Kenya. "We wanted to make sure that was something we celebrated," Wilemon says.

The Austin-based nonprofit has a lot more to celebrate, as well. 2012 has been its most successful year to date in taking volunteer teams to Africa: eight different teams traveled to Kenya this year, totaling nearly 80 volunteers.

In fact, a team of some of Austin's top entrepreneurs have just completed CTC projects in Kenya, including Jim McDermott (owner of The Belmont), Joe Ross (Grande Communications, CSID) and Kevin Warden (Austin Monthly's most eligible bachelor and owner of Austin Which Wich). As a parent of a special needs child, Warden immediately identified with the program where mothers of special needs kids work to earn an income to provide education and therapy for their kids.

"I was extremely moved when I visited the program in Kenya and saw the strength showed by the mothers, who care for their kids with none of the support services we have here in the states," Warden says. "I am also excited to be involved with an organization where I can have an immediate impact. CTC’s philosophy of creating sustainable change by empowering the Kenyan people to improve quality of life attracted me.”

CTC also launched TRIBE this year, an intentional community of supporters like Warden who are committed to the organization, financially and otherwise. TRIBE is a collection of people that not only support the people of Maai Mahiu as they fight to lift themselves up but that also wish to hear about the true impact of their support, join like-minded individuals in meaningful community and walk alongside an inspiring group of people creating change in Africa. In short, it's an invitation to change the world.

TRIBE, which counts Kimmel among its 100-plus members, was born from the growth of CTC. "We had a lot of people who wanted our time, and we needed to figure out how to focus that time...and to know we were meeting the needs of our Western customers too," says Wilemon.

The addition of many new Lifeline products to the CTC store this year is something Wilemon is also proud of. The line, which includes bracelets and bags, went from $120,000 in sales to over half a million over the last year, and has created over 400 new jobs in Kenya.

"All of these partnerships came from personal relationships," says Wilemon. "It wasn't companies seeking out a charity to get involved with; we weren't trying to find just any corporate sponsor. It's not causes and celebrities utilizing each other. It all grew organically, from friendship. That makes the relationship so much deeper. At CTC, we are all about sustainability—and our relationships are the most sustainable part of our organization."

The Jimmy Kimmel Crowdrise contest runs through January 10, 2013. "Help me win a whole lot of money for Comfort the Children by raising more money than everyone else," Kimmel states on his Crowdrise campaign page. "I. must. beat. everyone."