Sometimes, in order to accomplish a feat as large as a marathon, one needs outside inspiration. A larger source of motivation. A reason to keep going mile after mile, step after step.

26 Miles for 26 Charities is the philanthropy program of the Livestrong Austin Marathon and Half Marathon, for which runners pledge to run and raise money on behalf of a participating charity. In the past five years, the program has raised over $1.2 million for Austin-area nonprofits.

“Our vision for this race is to use running as a tool to help communities and individuals reach their goals,” said John Conley, race director, in a press release. “By signing up to raise money for one of these organizations that has a direct impact in our city, participants are doing both at the same time.”

The relationship between the two groups is one that keeps on giving: The charities are also present on the race course, giving back to the runners in the form of water, electrolytes and roaring cheers. The relationship between the two groups is one that continues to sustain itself through mutual admiration.

To either run (better hit that pavement stat) or volunteer, visit www.youraustinmarathon.com. Or take a peek at the list of participating nonprofits and volunteer at any time, marathon or not.

An asterisk indicates a newly participating charity. The marathon takes place in Austin on February 17.

  • Jimmy Kimmel
    Courtesy photo
  • Malaika kids
    Photo by Chelsea Dee Photography
  • Malaika mums
  • Zane Wilemon and Jeremiah Kuria (US & Kenya director)

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

worth the pain

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."

  • Building Comfort Kits

The Comfort Crew: Spreading Christmas spirit and peace of mind to military kids

Comfort and joy

It’s Christmas Eve, meaning that many Americans are spending quality time with family at home, usually with relatives that they don’t get to see often enough. The time will be appreciated, but there will plenty of folks out there, including many children, who will have to miss out on holiday family time due to having a parent out on deployment for the military.

It’s never easy for these kids, but there are those who will stand with them to help them through.

The Comfort Crew for Military Kids understands the challenges faced by the modern military family, especially over the past decade of overseas conflict. The size of the military has shrunk by 30 percent since 1990, which has resulted in longer and more frequent deployments for men and women in uniform due to large-scale operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

For months on end, many kids have dealt with the anxieties of knowing that a parent is in constant danger. The Comfort Crew seeks to ease the difficulties of military family life through various efforts.

One common method is the creation and distribution of Comfort Kits for youngsters. Each kit contains DVDs, plush toys and journals that encourage kids to express their emotions and feelings regarding various situations. For many, it’s dealing with deployments, moving or reintegrating with returning parents, while for others it will be learning to cope with a loved one who made the ultimate sacrifice.

The non-profit also offers more hands-on efforts to help military kids by hosting camps that foster their physical, social and emotional resiliency. Camp Hero was held at Camp Mabry in 2012, focusing on creating an environment that builds support amongst peers as well as support throughout the military community. The Comfort Crew will also assist spouses and loved ones in trying to understand the difficulties of being a military kid and how to work through those problems.

During a USO Tour, the Comfort Crew estimated that it was able to meet and reach 75,000 military children. Over the past two years, 69,000 Comfort Kits have been distributed. The Comfort Crew is on a mission and is committed to helping as many children in need as possible. It’s summed up in their motto ­— “We Are With You All the Way!

Colorado River Foundation: Preserving a natural Texas resource for the nextgeneration

Culture of Giving

It’s not hard to imagine that Austin would have never evolved from the tiny village of Waterloo into a bustling cultural and economic center without the help of the neighboring Colorado River. Possibly the most defining visual characteristics of Austin might just be the glistening waters of Lake Austin and Lady Bird Lake, reservoirs that have served as a major boon for local aquatic recreation.

Thanks to the use of these waters, Austin has gained both a unique visual aesthetic and another springboard for revenue in a strong local economy.

It may be easy to show Austinites how much the Colorado River has contributed to the growth of this city, but the river extends far beyond Austin's borders. That's why organizations like the Colorado River Foundation exist: to raise awareness for the protection of one of Texas’ most important rivers, from the Highland Lakes all the way to Matagorda Bay.

The foundation seeks to promote natural science education through special activities and outdoor recreation programs for youth living near the river, particularly those who are at-risk.

The Colorado River has always been close to home for me. Growing up in the small town of Columbus, Texas, which is one of many other towns nestled on the banks of the river, I have seen how important these waters can be in serving communities outside of the Capital City.

Just like in Austin, the river in Columbus has provided its own recreational activities, like boating and fishing, as well as one of the best duck hunting spots in the state. Columbus might not host massive music festivals that attract thousands to the river's shores, but it has certainly made the most of its proximity to the water.

Growing up in a county that derived its own name from the river certainly educated me on how important the water from this river can be to wildlife and local rice farmers. The massive drought that gripped the state in 2011 had a major effect on many farms south of Austin, and the Lower Colorado River Authority had to cut off irrigation water for the first time in 70 years. Due to the continued low water levels in the Highland Lakes, it’s very likely that once again the LCRA will have to severely restrict water to farmers once again in 2013.

It’s because of this ongoing crisis that the mission of the Colorado River Foundation seems more important than ever. The foundation seeks to promote natural science education through special activities and outdoor recreation programs for youth living near the river, particularly those who are at-risk.

Educational programs include hands-on learning at the Wilkerson Center for Colorado River Education, as well as in Kids on the Colorado, a rafting and nature tour in which students learn about river stewardship and wildlife conservation. The foundation estimates that at least 65 percent of participating students are from underserved communities and often receive scholarships funded by the Colorado River Foundation.

With the prospect of water resources continuing to be stretched thin in the years to come, the mission of preparing the next generation to understand and handle these emergencies is an imperative for environmental preservation. A sustained environment is a gift that will keep on giving for many generations.


The Colorado River Foundation is a member of I Live Here, I Give Here. You can donate to the Colorado River Foundation directly from this page, using the form below.

  • A 2012 Woman of Distinction honoree, Brigadier General Laura Richardson.
  • Etta Moore and Girl Scouts at the 100 Anniversary event at the State Capitol.
    Photo by Erin Sellers
  • A STEM event where girls learned how to build robots.
  • Girl Scouts dressed up in uniforms of the past at a 100th Anniversary event.

Girl Scouts of Central Texas celebrates 100 years and allows girls to discovertheir potential

female empowerment

A lot about Girl Scouts' programming has changed over the past 100 years, but one thing has not: its mission.

"The mission is to build girls of courage, confidence, and character who make the world a better place. We offer the girls opportunities so they can develop their skills in order to do that." Lolis Garcia-Baab, Director of Marketing and Communications for the Girls Scouts of Central Texas says.

The Girl Scouts celebrated its 100th anniversary this year. When the organization was founded in 1912, times were very different. For example, women weren't allowed to vote and had more limited opportunities. Garcia-Baab also says women didn't often get the opportunity to venture outdoors, so the Girl Scouts provided exposure to activities they otherwise would not have — like camping.
While the Girl Scouts still teaches the fundamentals it did when it started, Garcia-Baab says its programming has expanded to have an even greater impact.
"I think the most important thing girls get out of Girl Scouts is a sense of empowerment. Both because they learn that they are capable of doing certain things they didn't know they could do, and second because they see that their actions can have positive consequences both inside their families and their communities," she says.
While learning about outdoor living via camping and about business through the annual cookie program remain important, Girl Scouts of Central Texas is also exposing girls to other interests to help them prepare for their futures.
"We've developed a STEM program because we understand that science technology engineering and math is key to the future, so we give the girls opportunities to do things like build robots where they can get excited about STEM," Garcia-Baab explains. "We try to show them how all these different skills are applicable to real life." Girl Scouts also offers fun educational programs that focus on fine arts, the environment, community service and life skills.
The Girl Scouts of Central Texas will face the new year with new leadership. Long-time CEO Etta Moore recently retired and the board is searching for her replacement. As she pioneered many cutting edge programs, Garcia-Baab says Moore's innovative leadership will be missed, but the organization looks forward to continued success in shaping the lives of young girls.
"We will continue to do the work that we are doing and do it in a bigger and better way. We always look for better ways that we can serve our girls, because they come first."
Garcia-Baab says the most ambitious goal of the organization in the coming years will be to increase the number of women in leadership roles in the United States. "We have charged our membership with achieving balanced gender in leadership positions in this country in one generation. Which is a huge undertaking but very exciting."
Garcia-Baab says the majority of this country's female political and industry leaders have something in common: They were Girl Scouts at some point in their lives. "When you start to see the impact the Girl Scouts have in women who succeed in our community, you start to see the importance of girls becoming Girl Scouts. And so we want to increase our membership. That's our first order of business."
She explains the second challenge is getting the Girl Scouts' message out to the community for involvement. If you'd like to support the Girl Scouts of Central Texas, you can become a member, volunteer or donate. It's through the support of the community that the organization will continue to have an impact on thousands of girls each year.
"They have fun. They learn new skills, and they learn the difference one person can make."

Ad Placement 300x100
Ad Placement 300x600

CultureMap Emails are Awesome

4 Austin-inspired cocktail recipes to whisk you away from the Texas heat this summer


Now that summer weather has arrived in Austin, we can tell you’re thirsting for some new drinks to try. And with World Gin Day coming up on June 10, we’re sharing a few recipes from local Austin restaurants (and Austin’s favorite Topo Chico!) we hope you’ll enjoy.

The following recipes feature some of our favorite ingredients or mixers we’re loving at the moment. Whether your drink of choice is a cocktail or mocktail, we’ve gathered four bright and bubbly beverages to help whisk you away from the Texas heat. And if you prefer to drink them rather than make them, three of these lovely libations can be found on the seasonal summer menus at their respective restaurant.

Aba’s Rhubarb Rose Gin and Tonic
This cocktail was created by Senior Beverage Manager Thomas Mizuno-Moore.

½ oz lime juice
¼ oz honey syrup
½ oz Fruitful Mixology rhubarb liqueur
¾ oz Brockmans Gin
¾ oz Hendrick’s Flora Adora
2 oz tonic water
Rosebud tea, for garnish


  • Combine lime juice, honey syrup, Fruitful Mixology rhubarb liqueur, Brockmans Gin and Hendrick’s Flora Adora in a cocktail shaker. Add ice, shake until cold.
  • Add tonic water to the shaker, then strain over fresh ice in a double old fashioned glass.
  • Garnish with rosebud tea and enjoy!

Blueberry Sparkler Mocktail by Topo ChicoBecause everyone needs a good go-to mocktail recipe in their life.Photo courtesy of Topo Chico

Blueberry Sparkler Mocktail by Topo Chico
This beverage might not be gin-themed, but it does make a great refreshing mocktail. If you don’t have Topo Chico Sabores on hand, you can substitute it with sparkling water.

1 Blueberry Topo Chico Sabores
1 cup fresh blueberries
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
½ cup water
½ oz freshly squeezed lemon juice
Lemon slices and additional blueberries, for garnish

Blueberry Syrup Directions:

  • In a small saucepan, combine the blueberries, sugar, and water. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the blueberries are soft and the sugar has dissolved, about 5 minutes.
  • Remove the saucepan from the heat and allow the blueberry mixture to cool for about 10 minutes.
  • Once cooled, use a fine-mesh strainer to strain the blueberry mixture into a bowl, pressing on the solids to extract as much juice as possible. Discard the solids and set the blueberry syrup aside.

Mocktail Directions:

  • In a cocktail shaker, combine 1 ounce of the blueberry syrup, and lemon juice. Fill the shaker with ice and shake well until chilled, about 15-20 seconds.
  • Fill a glass with ice and strain the mixture into the glass. Top off the glass with Blueberry Topo Chico Sabores (or sparkling water) and give it a gentle stir to mix.
  • Garnish with lemon slices and additional blueberries, if desired. Enjoy your refreshing Blueberry Sparkler!

Tillie's seasonal summer cocktailThis colorful cocktail is a lively take on a gin martini.Photo courtesy of Tillie's at Camp Lucy

Empress Gin Martini by Tillie’s at Camp Lucy
This martini recipe was developed by Paolo Lazarich, the mixologist for Abbey Row Restaurant at The Old Bell Hotel in the United Kingdom. Fun fact: Camp Lucy owners Kim and White Hanks also own The Old Bell Hotel, which is rumored to be England’s oldest hotel.

3 oz Empress 1908 Gin
1 oz dry vermouth
Splash of lemon juice
Lemon and rosemary for garnish


  • Add the Empress 1908 Gin, dry vermouth, and lemon juice to a glass and stir gently.
  • Garnish with a lemon wedge and a sprig of rosemary. Enjoy.

\u200bSummertime Spritz by Dean's Italian Steakhouse There's nothing like a summer spritz.Photo courtesy of Dean's Italian Steakhouse

Summertime Spritz by Dean's Italian Steakhouse
This recipe is geared toward a mixologist who enjoys the little details that make a cocktail so unique, such as making their own oleo saccharum or curating the perfect flower as a garnish.

½ oz lemon juice
½ oz strawberry oleo saccharum
¼ oz Aperol
¼ oz Giffard Abricot
1.5 oz Zephyr Gin
2 oz Brut champagne
1 each cocktail flower


  • Combine all ingredients except Brut champagne into a cocktail shaker. Fill the shaker with ice and shake vigorously, about 15-20 seconds.
  • Fill a wine glass with ice and add the Brut. Fine strain the cocktail into the glass.
  • Garnish with the cocktail flower

Extravagant estate in West Austin hits the market for $4.25 million


An imperial estate in the Lost Creek neighborhood of West Austin has become the latest addition to the city's stabilizing real estate market. The property was listed at $4.25 million.

The magnificent three-story home was originally built in 2009, making great use of Austin's Hill Country views that can be seen from every single room. The home spans 8,215 square feet on just over two acres of land, surrounded by lush trees and enclosed with a private gated entrance.

Natural light floods the inside of the home, highlighting intricate details and complimenting the high ceilings. The home boasts five bedrooms, four bathrooms, and three half-baths. The primary suite is reminiscent of an upscale resort, containing its own spa-like bathroom, walk-in closets, and access to a private balcony.

In the kitchen, the 60-inch wolf range is an aspiring chef's dream. The area has plenty of space and storage with its rich brown cabinets, a sub-zero refrigerator, a cabinet-mounted wine rack, two sinks, and more.

8105 Talbot Lane in AustinThe 60-inch wolf range is an aspiring chef's dream.Photo courtesy of JPM Real Estate Photography

A few other highlights of the home include a game room, media room, terraces, and a resort-style pool deck with an accompanying hot tub, kitchen, and fire pit. The two-car garage also includes a guest suite above it, with a single bedroom, kitchenette, and half bath.

Looking into the property's history, it was listed in June 2022 for $4.9 million, which was reduced to $3.9 million by September. The home was reported as sold in October of that year before being re-listed for its current $4.25 million price in 2023.

8105 Talbot Lane in Austin

Photo courtesy of JPM Real Estate Photography

The estate is located at 8105 Talbot Lane in West Austin.

The estate is located at 8105 Talbot Lane, which is a brief 10 minutes from downtown Austin, and is zoned for the highly-esteemed Eanes Independent School District. The listing is held by agent Wade Giles of Douglas Elliman.

Uchi spinoff to debut "whisky omakase," bar pairings, and bao in Austin

Raising the Bar

Uchibā isn't a new concept, nor is it newly promised to Austin, but it's finally getting closer to becoming a reality. The bar and restaurant spinoff from Uchi (translated as "Uchi Bar") announced today that it is set to open in late summer in the Google Tower.

Hai Hospitality, the parent group of famous omakase restaurant Uchi, more casual sushi restaurant Uchiko, and drop-in Asian barbecue restaurant Loro, announced the idea in October of 2021, setting a launch date in fall of 2022. The intent was always to open the restaurant in the Google Tower (601 West 2nd St.), so the difference now is just timing.

The original Uchibā opened in Dallas in 2019, operating upstairs from Uchi, an Austin export. This exchange is now coming back around, blurring the lines of what's from which Texas city. Similarly, the lines are blurred between what each restaurant serves, since Uchibā does include some of Uchi and Uchiko's most popular dishes: hot and cool tastings, agemono (deep fried bites), raw fish rolls, yakitori, and more, including dessert.

Of course, there will be lots of menu items that are unique to Uchibā, especially when informed by the spirits behind the bar. Some of these food and drink pairings include the Hawaiian-ish spiced ham misubi with nori, rice, and tepahe, a fermented pineapple drink; and the vodka and caviar with olive oil, burnt butter, brioche, and chives. As well as these "duos," the bar will offer omakase flights for whiskey and agave spirits.

“At Uchi we combine flavors and textures to create what we call the ‘perfect bite,’” said Chef Tyson Cole, the James Beard Award-winning chef who started the Uchi brand, in a press release. “With Uchibā, we wanted to take that a step further by unifying food with cocktails and spirits. Our 'Perfect Pairs' and the whisky omakase play off this idea with intentional combinations of food, cocktails and the the amazing array of Japanese whiskies behind the bar.”

Some menu items aren't just unique to Uchibā; They're also only available at the Austin location, thanks to its chef de cuisine, Vaidas Imsha. His menu includes categories that don't appear at the Dallas location — "Buns + Bao" and dumplings — and a long list of items that could constitute their own menu independently. Among these are a Caesar salad with Japanese twists; a Wagyu beef bulgogi with radish kimchi; two fish crudos with refreshing additions like asian pear and cucumber aguachile; and the more straightforward karaage spiced up with kimchi caramel and yuzu pear.

Uchibā will operate Sunday through Thursday from 4-10 pm; until midnight on Fridays; and until 11 pm on Saturdays. Happy Hour will be from 4-6 pm Monday through Friday.

Uchiba Austin

Photo courtesy of Uchibā

Although Uchi is from Austin, Uchiba, the upstairs bar, has only existed in Dallas until now.