CARLOS: I think I’ll start by telling you who I am.
So born in Brazil, father’s from Portugal, came here at a young age. My dad wanted a better life for his family so he came over here got a 20 acre farm. So my family, my brother, sister, all worked on the family farm for years, during school, after school and so forth.
In ’92 I went to college and decided to go into the family farm. So that’s what I did. My brother wasn’t interested in the company, my sister wasn’t interested in the company and my dad wanted to retire so small farm and I worked my job for years. Travel all over country visiting clients.
So sweet potatoes, worked really hard. Worked really hard until 2007, built the company to the point we’re the largest grower, packer, shipper in the country. So the company was doing was doing really well, so I wanted to do something else that was for me. (unintelligible) racing cars.
So , in 2007, I decided to walk into a race shop at the age of 35 and looked into racing cars. I called some friends of mine, I said guys, I want to go racing. They said, Carlos, you’re crazy, you’ve never been to a race, been near a race car before ever, but it’s been my dream, worked my butt off all these years, now I want to do something that’s for me.
So I bought a race car, needed a number so I thought why not 51 and my friends called me crazy for doing it so I said, you know what, I want to come up with a logo that can be used to promote what I’m doing. I’m living my dream.
And also promote being successful, working hard, taking risks not being normal, not trying to be like everyone else, taking chances and looking for challenges, everything that made me successful. I wanted a logo to show that.
So I put the logo on the hood of the car and showed up at the racetrack. Everybody loved the logo,everybody wanted all the shirts, wanted all the hats, so I knew I had something good there.
So as I was trying to learn the sport of racing. We were approached by Valley Children’s Hospital in Madera. They actually went to each team and asked each team to raise money for the hospital.
We raised more money than any other team, so they invited us to the hospital. So I took the race team and went to the hospital and visited these kids and they showed so much appreciation that I said to team guys what else can we do so we held a big fundraising dinner.
(CHRIS SHOWS UP AND Carlos RECAPS STORY)
So at 35 I actually bought a race car. Never been racing, never been to a racetrack. So I picked the number fifty one, created this logo, 51 Fifty, put it on the hood, to create this image that’s about taking chances in life being successful, because my father was very simple, one type of box, very (unintelligible).
I’m successful because I took risks, because I didn’t want to be like everybody else. I love challenges.
Those are the things that made me successful. so I took that using also chasing my dream of racing cars so I went to the car, everyone loved the car, was approached by Valley Children’s hospital, right when I started racing, did a fundraiser, team 51 Fifty did a fundraiser, we raised more money than anyone else so they invited us to the hospital. (unintelligible)
So we went to the hospital, saw the kids, the hospital told us how appreciated they are, we saw that we were making a difference in the fundraiser, so I went back to the team, I said guys, we need to do a little bit more , so we threw a dinner, we raised $30k at this dinner, this was the end 2007, raised $30k, we didn’t know what to do with the money, we need to find a cause.
I had an employee of mine, a single mom, had a boy, the boy turned two three years old, he stopped communicating with her. He didn’t make eye contact. She didn’t know what was going on.
CARLOS – She was crying in my office, asking if I knew where she could go for help. She went around to all these doctors trying to find out what was wrong with this kid and it was autism. That’s when it home for me, said, you know what, let’s choose autism.
So in 2008, (unintelligible) I said we have this $30K I asked her what do you want me to do with this $30K? She said, there’s an organization, a place in Merced called Challenged Family Resource Center. They’re in desperate need of an autism center.
They had no help for families with autism, so I gave that $30K to challenge and they opened up a (unintellible) in their facility to specifically help kids with autism.
So when I did that and heard how much the community and families loved it, so I said guys, you know what, let’s take it to the next step. So in 2008, I created this campaign, called Race for Autism, so I wrapped my race car with autism pieces, created this logo, put it on the race car, and went racing.
Raced 30-40 times that year, donate all the money but also raise awareness of autism through our race car puzzle pieced out and we also threw fundraisers. So we continued to (unintelligible) concerts, pick up dinners, golf tournaments, you name it, whatever we can to raise money. We raised money all that year, our goal was to raise $51K through these little fundraisers.
We surpassed that, so we start donating not only to Challenge, but to Autism Speaks , and Familiekmm74, Effective Autism Treatments, we started donating that money to whoever we could.
In 2009, I said you know what, we’re going make this our thing, we’re going to be that team that goes out and races for autism, so I became a non-profit.
I created the Carlos Vieira Foundation, we’re a 501(c)3 organization so then we started raising money and raising awareness through our racing, and so forth, all the way through 2011, 2011 I said, you know, what can we do, what can we do to raise money.
I thought the racing, and with our extreme lifestyle, and the way we live, I thought an energy drink would be a nice fit for this.
So, I said, you know guys, let’s come up with an energy drink so we can help promote autism awareness and also raise money so every time someone buys a can of 51 Fifty it goes to our foundation. That was 2011.
Our fundraising continues. We started making quite a bit of money doing what we do. So we decided, okay, besides donating money to autism research, what can we do to help families within our community. So we came up with a grant program, we have a direct help program. So families that loved ones with autism can go to our website, fill an application out, and as they meet certain criteria, give that family, we don’t give them cash,
RHONDA; you pay the vendor.
CARLOS: Exactly we give them money to buy speech therapy or whatever they kid needs. We started off in Merced county and now we’re in nine counties, from Sacramento to Fresno.
So families in those counties can come to us for help. So that’s where we’re at and I continue of course, still with AV Thomas with (unintelligible) We are the largest in the country.
Of course we have family involved. Samantha is the general manager of 51 Fifty.
51 Fifty Enterprises, there’s a whole bunch underneath that, the energy drink is only a part of that, the foundation’s a part of it, we have apparel as well, it’s actually more of a lifestyle, people believe what 51 Fifty stands for, what it means and what we’ve built, they know we are not just an energy drink, we stand for something greater.
We believe in being successful but helping people along the way, we think it’s cool to help so that’s why, to me, in my opinion, the younger generation, the ones that don’t normally drink energy drinks, they try and convince those guys yeah Rockstar and Red Bull are cool, but we are giving back. We believe it’s good to give back, and cool to help people and care.
RHONDA: Rockstar has a foundation or partners with a foundation.
CARLOS: Yeah I understand that but our energy drink came after our foundation, our foundation came first.
It’s not like we became rich and now we’re giving money. Since the beginning it’s been part of what we do. It’s not something we did after, does that make sense? So that’s the difference between Rockstar and us. So that’s my story.
CHRIS: So you 51 on your car when you started racing, is that right?
CARLOS: At the same time, I needed a number. I wanted a logo. I wanted something.
I didn’t need sponsors. I got plenty of money, I didn’t need money.
I just wanted a logo that me represented me chasing my dream.
What made me successful. And let people know, hey, you could be more, I could be different, take changes, you got to take those risks – risks if you want to reach your dreams, and be successful, so I think that logo and that number, the number of course (unintelligible).
So my life story. So if you have questions about my story, maybe there’s something you want to know more about it…
RHONDA—Well we did some research before when #TheReal5150 campaign began, I don’t know if you are aware of it. I don’t know if you’ve heard of that campaign.
CARLOS: Yeah, that’s you guys.
RHONDA: Yeah. Why don’t you tell the story Eve?
RHONDA: I don’t know if you’ve read anything I’ve written about it, but I’ve been a 5150, several times. I’ve been hospitalized up to two months at a time.
5150 means you are handcuffed in the back of a police car.
It means that you’re subdued by a psychiatric tech who squeezes your breast so hard that it leaves bruises.
It’s being assaulted by another patient at a state hospital leaving you with a black eye when you go to court for your capacity hearing.
It means having a process server unable to serve you because your whereabouts are so scattered and your mom dies before you can heal the relationship her.
It’s being tased by police because your psychotic and you’re mumbling to yourself and you’re homeless, and your drugs are stolen in the shelter.
EVE – (unintelligible)
RHONDA: I think we can talk to you about this issue for hours but until you hear enough voices saying to you that this name and slogan (unintelligible) no change will occur.
EVE – (unintelligible)
RHONDA– It’s like the blue wall of silence with people who are peer-to-peer. We actually have a derogatory term that we use for normal people which is neuro-typical. Like he’s neuro-typical but he’s okay.
EVE: Neuro-typical but he’s good people. (CONTINUES)
RHONDA: You lose social standing, credibility.
EVE – (unintelligible)
RHONDA: Becoming an advocate yourself is like the final stage when you have a crisis, then you recover from the crisis and then you become an advocate. That’s the three stages NAMI educates is the curve of an illness.
Do you mind if I talk a little bit about your foundation? Do you guys still sponsor MARS?
SAMANTHA – Unintelligible.
RHONDA – It looked like he was in your warehouse.
SAMANTHA-We have people come by the warehouse all the time, but we’ve never signed a contract with him.
CARLOS: We understand who he is and we don’t want to be a part of it.
Multiple people talking, (indistinct).
We get people requesting sponsorship all the time and there’s a lot of times we don’t do it so they do it on their own, make it look like we sponsored them.
EVE – unintelligble
CARLOS–Yeah I know.
RHONDA: You probably know that the larger…you make small potatoes…you’re not small potatoes, you’re the biggest in the country. and your growth for your foundation has been rapid and you’re now covering Sacramento to Fresno.
And you probably, obviously, you know the larger you get the more important image is and credibility is for maintaining your donors and that sort of thing.
And, looked with a skeptical eye, I looked at the Central Valley Buzz interview with Kelly and she had 51 Fifty product there and she talked about autism and the Race for Autism but then she went into a talk about, she said, “51 Fifty is a major sponsor, a platinum sponsor of the Race for Autism”
Well that was really disingenuous because you guys are really one in the same.
You have the same physical address, the employees of the company including the brand manager are on the board, you’re the president, you’re the CEO and it lacks transparency . . .
. . . that it’s really kind of two hands on the same body clapping each other on the back.
CARLOS: Let me explain why she calls platinum sponsor. We do have sponsors that donate to the foundation all year.
One of thing that we do, all the fundraisers we do, 51 Fifty is paying for all the advertising, paying for the people to be there, anything to pay for anything to promote that fundraiser. 51 Fifty is a sponsor of Race for Autism.
RHONDA: So the expenses are on 51 Fifty books, not the non-profit books?
RHONDA–Because I looked at your 990’s for 2011, 2012, 2013 and some things struck me as curious.
The cost of raising a dollar, even though all that stuff is paid for, the cost for raising a dollar averages around $.68 and for example NAMI’s big fundraiser costs $.14 for every dollar raised.
So in that range, there is an organization called CharityWatch, which is the most independent, aggressive charity watch organization and they would categorize that as that as an F in efficiency in fundraising.
And the other thing I wanted to ask you after reviewing your 990’s is you have two types of income, you have donations and you have service revenue.
Your donations were like $30K and $30K then dropped to $9K. That’s where you need to book your donations from 51 Fifty. When a company donates a percentage of sales, it falls into line item one which is donations.
Line item 2 is fee for service and I’m just curious, what is the service you are providing and who is it benefiting?
CARLOS: The language you’re talking, I’m not an accountant, I have someone that does that, I don’t know when you talk about a certain percentage.
Of course, when the foundation has a fundraiser it’s going to have costs associated with that. Out of everybody that donates to the foundation, 51 Fifty donates the most, that’s why it’s called a platinum sponsor.
Now there is costs associated costs associated with fundraising. Now about this thing about $.68, I don’t take care of my books, I don’t know, you’d have to talk to my bookkeeper.
RHONDA: You need to understand it because that’s how people are going to grade your charity.
CARLOS: I understand that. What I do know, is I throw a lot of fundraisers, I donate a lot of my time, I work my tail off everything that we raise is to help people, all I know is what I am doing is good. If somebody wants to look into what I’m doing and try to (indistinct) All I know is that I’m doing something good.
RHONDA–Maybe you don’t know what I’m getting. Line item one on your 990 is for donations. That’s where people give something without getting anything in return.
Item two is for fee for service. For example if you have a charitable clinic and you give free healthcare to women, the fee for service would be the money you get from the state to provide the service.
In the years they reclassified your income. For example if you have ticket sales from your boxing event, that would be fee for service. In 2013 you had $9k in donations and $50k in fees for service.
CARLOS: Once again, I don’t know. All I know is that we throw fundraisers, we raise money, we’re helping families. People that know us, I get letters and emails how great we’re doing and how much we’re helping. People that know me know that everything is for the good and positive. Your speaking numbers and it doesn’t change what I’m doing.
RHONDA: Have you ever thought of having your books audited and publishing an annual report?
CARLOS: I think being a non-profit it’s always.
RHONDA: No, that’s not the case.
CARLOS: I thought it was always.
RHONDA: An audit is when an independent accountant comes in, looks at the assets you have on your books, looks at your transactions for the year, traces transactions.
CARLOS: I think we have an audited here and there. My bookkeeper says we have a foundation audit coming up, we have a 51 Fifty audit coming up. We get audited I know that.
EVE – (unintelligible)
CARLOS: I appreciated your stories. I really do. And we have done stuff. There’s a couple things we have done because of what has developed. We’re launching a new website, the website isn’t going to mention anything about 5150.
We’re coming out with new cans. We’re removing the definition of 5150. Putting on something about following your dreams, about who we are. So we to be sensitive, we have made some changes.
I’m sure we’ll continue to make changes to try to be sensitive. Everything we do is for the positive. We want to help, we want to be a part of the community, we want to make a difference. So we have made some changes and I just wanted to share that.
RHONDA-You received a cease and desist letter about the Race for Autism being trademarked by the National Foundation of Autism Research. Do you have any response to that?
CARLOS-First of all, I actually applied for a trademark for Race for Autism first. I got records to show that I did.
RHONDA-Yes, the website shows that you did.
CARLOS: and so the person that was handling that, my trademark.
CARLOS–No, the person handling my paperwork. He dropped the ball and didn’t do the next step and someone else came in and trademarked it before I did.
I did get the email or the letter and I think I responded but once again, I’m not doing anything wrong, I’m not trying to change anybody, what they’re doing.
I hope they’re doing good, we’re doing good. We’re both doing good things. I don’t see any reason why not to continue.
RHONDA-I think we’ve heard what you’ve said, and understand why the branding of yourself, but I think we’re going to respectfully disagree with the views and the name and Live the Madness.
We have a lot of tools in our war chest and we’ve only just begun this campaign.
RHONDA-Well I expected George Zimmer from the Men’s Wearhouse and I’m not disappointed. You’ve got that charisma and ability to sell ice to eskimoes (Carlos laughs). You do, honestly.
RHONDA-Can ask, I mean, Eve, I admire this woman. She has done so much in her life and the social media guru that is so beyond my capability.
But she e-mailed you through your website and got no response, she tweeted on your page and was blocked and they ended up on a news story that went international.
What triggered the desire to meet?
SAMANTHA–Can I answer the first part? I didn’t get the message. I didn’t get an email. I don’t know why and that is a little interesting to me because we didn’t get it. We are in the process of getting a new one because that probably happened. So we weren’t ignoring you.
CARLOS– To answer your question about changing the name. One of the things that I’d like you to understand is that 51 Fifty is who I am.
I believe that we all can be greater, we all can be more, and to me, that’s what that expression means. It means make a difference.
So that’s who I am. So to change the name, there’s no other name that’s me, that’s my logo. I’m not in the energy business to be in the energy business. I don’t need money. So change the name? Change the name to what?
I went into the energy drink business because it is good for what we are doing. My dream and what I’m working towards is I wanna be not just a fundraising Race for Autism brand, I want to help our foundation.
We don’t just have a Race for Autism, we have our after-school program Gloves not Drugs to help kids stay off the streets, stay away from gangs, stay away from drugs so the kids (indistinct) Race to be Drug Free.
Gloves not Drugs is a part of that campaign. Race to be Drug Free also pays for speaker to come into schools. To come into schools and tell their life story about drugs and how drugs ruined their lives and whatever.
So to me, I want to continue these programs, these grant programs. We’re in 9 counties, I want to be up and down all California. I want to spread to other states.
RHONDA-Are you going to name all the gyms 51 Fifty?
CARLOS–If that’s the direction we go, then that’s the direction we go. That’s not what’s important to me. If that is what makes sense to do, then yeah.
But to get back to your question to change 51 Fifty, there’s nothing to change it to. That’s what I’m doing, that’s what I believe in. The brand is a positive brand so to answer that question.
CHRIS: I’m just curious, you’re slogan is 51 Fifty, Live the Madness.
One of the challenges that many with mental illness face is taking their meds. (Indistinct.) Not taking their meds wreaks havoc on them and their families. And the longer it goes untreated, (INDISTINCT).
And I’m not saying this is bad one way or the other, but have you thought about a young person who sees Live the Madness, live that high? (INDISTINCT).
RHONDA: Yeah, it feels good. It’s like heroin.
CHRIS-The possibility that not everyone will interpret it that way. They fail to get treatment because they are choosing to Live the Madness and they will lose the ability . . .
INDISTINCT . . .
Last of the transcription.
Thoughts after the meetimg
(Reposted with permission By Rhonda Moore via IamanAddictandLiar.wordpress.com)
Just over two weeks ago, Eve Hinson of quirkybirdwords.wordpress.com, founder of #TheReal5150 awareness campaign, was contacted by Carlos Vieira, the CEO of 51 Fifty Energy Drink, to set up a meeting to “clear up misconceptions.”
This afternoon, Eve and I met with him and the company’s general manager.
Our goals presented during the meeting were:
- Have the company rebrand its offensive and stigma promoting name and slogan, “Live the Madness” while still promoting their edgy lifestyle.
- Encourage greater transparency of the Carlos Vieira Foundation with respect to its relationship with 51 Fifty Energy Drink.
- Gather information about how the foundation and company conduct business.
- Recommend the foundation publish an annual report with audited financial statements, program activities and results, and details of fundraising activities including a list of major donors.
We came away from the meeting with a far worse taste in our mouth for the drink company and the foundation than we had going into the meeting. We shook hands at the start of the meeting, but not at the end. We agreed to disagree and there is a lot to disagree on.
More time is required to process today’s discussion and results, but we wanted to let those following the campaign and the progress toward our goals know of this important event.
By Rhonda Moore, IamanAddictandLiar.wordpress.com
Two days after meeting with the CEO of 51 Fifty Energy Drink, Eve Hinson and I are still a little burned mentally from the experience because of the volume of negative information we have to digest about the company and its related foundation.
The company is feeling pressure for change. They are doing a can redesign to eliminate the language that truncates the legal meaning of 5150, which is the California Code granting the state the right to involuntarily hold a person with a mental illness who is a danger to themselves, others, and/or is gravely disabled. They are also removing this language from their website.
This is not enough. Their name and slogan, “Live the Madness” printed on the can is utterly offensive and stigma promoting. I realize that I should be proving this to be so rather than just saying it, but my brain is tired and I ask for patience for the release of the written document that details the sham relationship between the company and its foundation, and other tidbits gleaned from the meeting and an analysis of their filings with the Internal Revenue Service along with other publicly accessible documents.
Right now, I’m exhausted and I’d much rather watch my cats stalk each other around corners than pick up my lance and fight windmills. For a more entertaining and guerrilla approach to the campaign, visit THIS SITE in the meantime.