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5 Minutes With ... Paul Gross

The Seattle area’s Paul Gross is the man behind www.mxforchildren.org, a philanthropic group dedicated to helping sick kids with the help of the stars of supercross. Last year, Paul helped organize a great fundraiser called Inside Line for the Children’s Hospital in Seattle. Now Paul has set his sites on Toronto, which not only has a world-renowned children’s hospital known as Sick Kids, but also the opening round of the 2007 Amp’d Mobile World Supercross GP tour. We tracked him down today to find out how fans can enjoy a wonderful SX experience in Toronto while also helping out great kids who need help and support.

Racer X: Paul, we understand from Denny Hartwig and the gang at Live Nation that you guys are getting ready to ramp up another big fundraiser for children, this time in Toronto.
Paul Gross: That’s true. We’re doing one in Toronto in conjunction with the Toronto Supercross and the Hospital for Sick Children there.

How will it work?
Well, in Seattle last year we did a triple charity, and the centerpiece was the inside-line experience, and that’s the piece we’re bringing to Toronto. Basically, we get people to go out and fundraise on behalf of the hospital. The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto—Sick Kids—is pretty world-renowned, so everyone in the area knows about it and has been touched by it. And the top ten fundraisers that raise $500 or more get sort of a backstage pass for supercross.
     It starts with a meet-and-greet with some of the top racers. Currently, Ricky Carmichael and Chad Reed are committed, as they were last year in Seattle. So they spend about 30 minutes with these people that raise funds, just doing anything like taking photos or just talking. And then the racers move on to the industry press conference and the people get to attend that, and then Chad and Ricky will go off and meet with some kids at the hospital to kind of brighten their day. So that’s very similar to the format of what we did last year in Seattle. And then the “inside liners,” as I call them, they get to go off and walk the track and they get to watch practice and a rig tour. They then get great seats.

I can tell you, as someone who has taken some friends and young kids to some races, there aren’t many things cooler than to walk the actual supercross track or get inside a big rig, so that right there is going to make for a very attractive weekend for 40 folks.
Yeah, I think it’s going to be great. The other thing that is really exclusive about this is the opportunity for people to really get to sit down and hang out with Ricky and Chad. These guys are great for giving their time, and it’s a great cause. The people that raise the money are fans and get just an unbelievable experience that you can’t get. I agree with the track walk. I was amazed because I had to run to get up some of the faces.

It gives you a whole new perspective. It’s weird how big the track is, yet how small it seems with the hay bales and everything, or how deep the whoops are.
I was amazed at how deep the whoops were. I often try to avoid the whoops on the track I ride on, and I looked at those and couldn’t imagine riding through them.

What’s the official name of the hospital?
It’s actually the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. It’s really quite world-renowned. And there is another twist of what we’re doing here, which is specifically the hospital only does these programs when the fundraiser supports research, and this is to support research for a condition called hydrocephalus, which is the number-one cause for brain surgeries in kids. So the kids that’ll benefit in the long run from this are kids that are subjected to multiple brain surgeries throughout their life because this disease has no cure. So these guys are doing some research on how to improve treatment and how to cure this horrible disease.

As what you did last April, this is a very noble cause, and it’s really great to see not only the people within the Amp’d Mobile Series helping you out, but also guys like Ricky and Chad.
Yeah, and the whole industry kind of rallies behind it. Magazines are letting me place ads for free, and some of the newspapers are getting their carriers involved. You get into a local area like Toronto and the industry really opens up its arms and embraces you for helping out a hospital like that. So it’s great.

Hey, most of us editors have kids, so it touches very close to home. Is there a website or anything for people to get details?
Absolutely. It’s www.mxforchildren.org. And that describes the event and gives people a place where they can either click and try to participate and try to raise $500, or they can just make a donation to benefit the event.

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