Friday, May 16, 2014 | 2 a.m.
Dave Rice didn’t even wait to finish his first season before branching out. He and his wife, Mindy, had been discussing the idea for years, so as soon as he had a platform as UNLV’s head coach, he wanted to do something with it outside of basketball.
A little more than two years after starting the Dave Rice Foundation, Rice is preparing for the organization’s third annual big fundraising event, An Evening with Dave Rice. Last year, late-night TV host Jimmy Kimmel joined the foundation’s board of directors. On Saturday night, he will be in town to host the dinner and auction at MGM Grand.
“It’s been tremendous for Mindy and me because it’s a cause that’s not only important to us on the surface but it’s extremely important to us personally with our son Dylan being on the autism spectrum,” Rice said.
The foundation’s primary objective is to partner with local organizations that help people affected by autism or work toward finding a cure. Saturday’s event is what brings in the vast majority of the organization’s funds, which it hands out in grants.
To date, Rice said, the Dave Rice Foundation has raised more than $400,000. In 2013 alone, the organization donated $275,000 to eight local groups, including the UNLV Center for Autism Spectrum Disorders, the Peoples Autism Foundation and the Nevada Partnership for Inclusive Education.
“So far, this has exceeded our expectations,” Rice said. “We are so grateful to the people in Las Vegas.”
Most of the money comes from event tickets, which start at $250, and the auctions that take place before dinner. As of Thursday evening, only a handful of those tickets stood in the way of a sellout. Tables and sponsorships were going from $5,000 to $20,000.
Kimmel’s addition adds some profile to the evening, as the host of "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" is the most well known figure in pop culture who also happens to be a lifelong UNLV fan. An all-expenses-paid trip for two to see his show in Los Angeles is one of the many items up for auction.
People may also bid on things like a golf outing with Rice, a trip for two to the Rebels’ basketball game at Kansas on Jan. 4, and a trio of live paintings that will be done while the event is taking place.
All of the money raised by the Dave Rice Foundation goes to the local organizations that it partners with. That’s been more than Rice ever anticipated. And by Sunday morning, it’s about to grow even more.
“This is the big fundraising event for us,” Rice said. “We truly appreciate the community’s support.”