Chicks on the trail.
It’s hard to know where to begin when writing about the MRG relationship with Chicks. We came across them under not the greatest circumstance for sure. Their name came up while searching for a suitable charity to direct the donations from my old fellers funeral. As a former foster child who’d been fortunate to experience the benefits of the countryside after early experience in London, he was passionate about the power of nature to improve lives. Chicks strives to this do by offering respite breaks to kids in difficult situations, particularly Kids from UK inner cities. These children aren’t ill, they are simply from tough, difficult or unpleasant situations.
Our journey to bringing the ‘Make Reality Great’ message to the world ran in parallel with this relationship. Across the last couple of years a few activities have seen us raise a few shillings to support them, and always to broadcast their story whenever possible.
I often hint at my corporate life and its associated privileges. Don’t misunderstand me I’m not Rockefeller, but I believe my family and I to be fortunate. Increasingly though I’ve found something a little amiss with the world in which I trade. Charity is a task and sometimes it seems it’s a kudos engine rather than a real want to change something. If not it sometimes feels like it’s a mechanism to justify a personal goal for the individual. Running a marathon is a noble effort for sure but is it a requirement for people to club together to help a worthy cause?
In support of the ethos of MRG we wanted to feel directly like we were making a difference. Handing over a cheque is worthy and needed, but to actually ‘do’ something that visibly impacts the outcome of the charity was the goal. Paying to make reality great is rewarding, but actually physically helping someone have a great reality, however fleeting, is an entirely different experience. The fact that the MRG collective resulted in us doing both was a wonderful outcome.
We ride bikes, it’s the reason the we exist after all, and doing so has taken us all over the country and world, has made us lifelong friends, kept us fit and most importantly provided experiences of personal achievement you would be hard pressed to better. (I do recognise that my mountain bike has also shown me pain, dirt, cost, blood, sweat and tears, but it all seems strangely worth it?) Naturally we radiated to a bike based event. Without any real clue how we were going to do it, or how we were going to pay for it we asked Chicks if they’d like to come pedal? To our complete and wonderful surprise they said yes…..
The work then began. We quickly learned the complexity of managing events, finding the right team to make these things happen seems to be the key. We went straight to Tony Williams of Evolve MTB to manage the structure and equipment for the day. Venue is also fundamental. 2 or 3 were considered but we didn’t know how the group would fare ability wise so an easily accessible range of terrain and all weather use was important. Chicks is based in Devon so the beautiful Haldon Forest was selected as the perfect weapon. Finally just as an army marches on its stomach a group of kids pedals on theirs. Once again local support was sourced in the form of Ali and the crew at the Ridge Cafe at Haldon. The pieces found and fitted together all that remained was the funding, for this we trusted in trust. We ask nicely and people respond. It’s not more complicated than that.
So we did it, I know Mr. Hulk has his thoughts on the day, completing an event such as this is an oddly personal experience. For me it really focused my mind. I left the trails that day and got on a plane to a corporate junket in Croatia. 5 star accommodation, perfect food, great wine and all free. I’m not pious enough to say it disgusted me, it was a beautiful place and a privilege to be there, but I did notice of the 130 fellow junketeers more than one complaint.
We live in bubbles. When did it become acceptable for me to be unhappy that my free gourmet meal is a little slow to be delivered? More to the point how is it right that I can count colleagues as friends when I don’t know them at all? Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not suggesting us corporate pay check players should all quit and walk the earth. After all someone needs to fund organisations like chicks. But I am suggesting we need to spend a little time working out how to place ourselves in the value scale.
When I question what I bring to the world it leads me to understand that my company is grateful to me for my efforts. When we used our skills and passion to take the Chicks group out it showed me that I can pass the gratitude to the people who need it. A cheque in the post would have been a noble gesture, having a 14 year old ask why we did it to tell her that we simply wanted to share and give them a great experience, to have her respond simply ‘you have’. That grounds you, to the best ground possible.
It was a grand day out with a simply wonderful, interesting, diverse and challenging group. It was a great demonstration of the wonderfulness of riding bikes. Not all the kids loved all the experience but they all managed it. They all finished the day having been recognised for their efforts. It was one of the best ride days of my life simply because, for some of them, it was proof they can do things and proof that there are people out there that care when they do.
Be nice. Give back. Make Reality Great.