imagine.change. is more than just Ricoh’s tagline. It’s the ethos that our employees embody so that they can focus their imaginative thinking to drive change. Over the next few months, we’ll be featuring a series of articles about Ricoh employees who have actively changed their communities, teams, and workplace for the better. We consider them to be the true Ricoh Change Makers.
Michael Gabriel is this week’s featured Change Maker and for good reason: he uses his love of cycling to raise money for children with cancer. For the month of August, Michael has been taking part in the Great Cycle Challenge: a national SickKids Foundation fundraising initiative.
A cause near to his heart
Michael has participated in the Great Cycle Challenge since 2018 and he does so in honor of his “twin cousin” Joey Davis. “We lost my ‘twin cousin’ a number of years ago to an illness we couldn’t see. But Joey felt it. We knew this much; Joey’s illness was an indiscriminate bully, kicking and swinging while we weren’t even in the ring!”
Sadly, Michael’s close connection to childhood cancer is a reality that nearly 1400 families across Canada are faced with every year. So, he and thousands of others, have come together to “change little lives and give these kids the brighter futures they deserve.”
Every dollar and kilometer counts
Although Michael has dedicated most of his fundraising efforts to childhood cancer, he has participated in other charitable cycling events through the years. His total combined efforts have raised nearly $10,000 in support of treatment and research for various organizations through donations from friends, family, Ricoh colleagues and sponsorships.
Of that amount, Michael has proudly raised nearly $3,000 and pedaled almost 1,000 kms over three years for the Great Cycle Challenge.
“I don’t think anybody has to look very far to find someone who has been or is suffering from cancer, and I don’t think you can throw too much money or effort at solving these riddles.”
In addition to this long-distance cycling fundraiser event, Michael has participated in the MS Ride which is a 200 km ‘there & back’ ride over two days from Leduc to Camrose, Alberta.
Each year, he commits in some way to giving back and donating to worthy causes. And while he’s mixed it up a bit, it regularly involves cycling. He finds both the philanthropy and the ride itself rewarding, describing it as “a really nice way to give back, involving something I love to do anyways.”
A love for cycling and nature
Michael started out long-distance biking as a form of vacation. Based out of Edmonton, he’d pack up his bike and take a Greyhound bus to Rogers Pass in the heart of the Rocky Mountains and Glacier National Park. From there, he’d cycle all the way to Vancouver, Kelowna, or Penticton to visit friends and take in the beauty of the surrounding areas.
“I love cycling. It’s a beautiful way to travel. I get to hear or even smell the bears before I see them, and I can detect a waterfall from 500 yards ahead, rather than catch a blur of it in the rearview mirror while flying past in a car. I can experience it up close and personal. If I’m feeling it’s too hot and ‘Hey, there’s a lake ahead!’, I can just jump in and not have to apologize to anyone for stopping. Acting with that sort of independence is kind of wonderful.”
Imagining a better future for others
When Michael think’s about Ricoh’s ‘imagine.change’ it takes on a deeper meaning for him in the context of his fundraising. He submits that it has “nothing to do with copiers or technology.” Instead, he says: “It would be wonderful to find out that these efforts that I’m making and everybody else is contributing to, leads to some cures and treatments that are more successful.” He imagines that what he is able to do through cycling events and fundraising brings about positive change for others.
In fact, just recently one of his colleagues was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer and the Ricoh team in Edmonton has been rallying around him and raising money to help with the costs of his treatment. With specialized treatment only available in the United States, his family has set up a GoFundMe to help with the expense. Learn more.
To track Michael’s progress or contribute to his fundraising goal, please click here.
Update: Unfortunately, on the evening of September 2nd Michael’s bike was stolen from his home. If you live in the Edmonton area please keep an eye out for his bike – you can find details of it here BikeIndex.org.
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