Here's Manny Ruiz's family vacation by the numbers: 40 states, 34 days, 10,000 miles, 3 kids. And the best part: More than $15,000 in corporate freebies to pay for most of the damn thing.
My favorite among these contributions: The McDonald's Corp. will provide as much food as Manny and his family want - morning, noon, and night. Each day, the Ruizes will Twitter where they are eating and as many as four families will be treated if they wish to drop in.
"We can pretty much eat at whatever McDonald's we want," says Manny, who is 40 years old, Cuban American, and lives in Miami.
There is a small problem, he, his wife Angela, and their three kids, Briani, 1,
Elena, 6, and Jonathan, 10, "really like vegetables." Oh well. They'll mostly eat breakfast there.
It's all part of Manny's grand social media scheme, which is on display at his website, Papiblogger.com - the slogan of which is, "Your guide to creative parenting tricks." The journalist and PR guy gives moms and dads tricks like how to potty train junior or how to excise the pornographic parts of movies so you can show them to tots.
Not long ago, he came up with the plan to drive the nation and describe the trip on Twitter, Facebook, and his blog. Manny's Cuban-American, his wife is Mexican-American, so the trip will have a Hispanic flavor.
Chevy agreed to give them a car for the trip - the "papimobile," actually a 2010 Traverse. Sprint provided three Android phones, including one for the the ten-year- old Jonathan. (ATT could have had our business," says Manny. "But they were asleep at the wheel.") The Kennedy Space Center even agreed to a free tour.
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Of course, everything isn't paid for. They plan to visit the hotel in the Oregon where The Shining was filmed and the Cafe Du Monde in New Orleans. But hey, they're working on other sponsors, he says.
"We have a positive message that we want to convey," Manny says. "Latinos are misunderstood in some cases....We are pro Latino and pro family."
So is he gonna visit the anti-Hispanic center of the universe, Arizona?. "Absolutely, God made Arizona, didn't he?