It’s not every day that a story leaves you speechless, but that’s exactly what I was when I heard about Mick Mason and his aim to raise £22,000 for Martin House Hospice – one of Progeny’s chosen charities for 2019 – through his event, Uncle Mick’s Bike Ride.
An Inspirational Family
Mick Mason’s family are no strangers to adversity. His mother was born with cerebral palsy, but she defied the odds by raising a family of two boys. Mick’s brother, Derek, was born with a club foot which eventually had to be amputated. Then, in 2008, the family received the devastating news that Mick’s nephew Alex (Derek’s son), had been diagnosed with a terminal genetic disorder called Friedreich’s Ataxia, which affects the central nervous system, causing complications such as poor muscle growth, curvature of the spine and fatigue. Alex was just 4 at the time he was diagnosed.
As the family prepared for a challenging future, they were put in touch with Martin House Hospice, who provide family-led care for children with life shortening conditions. It’s a place where children and their families can stay from time to time and get support, rest and practical help. But of course, they rely heavily on charitable donations.
One Man’s Determination
Since Alex’s diagnosis, Martin House Hospice have provided amazing support to Mick’s family, and Mick started to think about ways in which he could give something back. It wasn’t long before the idea of a two-day sponsored cycle event along the 127.5-mile canal route from Liverpool to Leeds was born.
The first event in 2013 wasn’t without problems. With all the riders except Mick having pulled out at the last minute, friend and neighbour Steve stepped in to cycle with Mick. But tragedy struck on day two when Steve’s dad suffered a stroke, and they had to curtail the ride.
However, Mick isn’t easy to keep down, and within weeks they had agreed to finish the ride. With more riders now keen to join them, there were eventually nine finishers that year and they raised several hundred pounds.
From Strength to Strength
Since that inaugural ride in 2013, the event has grown significantly. In 2018 there were 73 cyclists and 24 support staff, and to date the event has raised more than £50,000.
When I asked Mick about the growth and popularity of the event, he explained “UMBR for me was about giving support and raising awareness for the amazing work Martin House Hospice does for so many people. I expected the event to grow a little to maybe 15 people before we got bored, but over the last six years it has taken off.
“I have grown as a person, and I have had to adapt the event each year. I have made some amazing friends, gained critics, had issues, hospital visits and many sleepless nights, but the one thing that has kept me going so long is seeing Alex at the end point, at Granary Wharfe, waiting for the cyclists to come home. His face lights up, he has selfies and group shots with people, and he is buzzing long after the event is done and cleared away.
“The event now receives amazing support and sponsorship and, of course, it wouldn’t happen without our cyclists, support team and sponsors. They are the ones that between them are responsible for raising just over £50,000 in 6 years. I just make sure the people are in the right place at the right time.”
Good luck Mick!
It’s going to be a strange ride this year for Mick. Alex can’t be there for the homecoming because on the 9th May he is scheduled to go into hospital for spinal correction surgery. And, for the first time, Mick’s brother Derek (understandably) won’t be his right-hand man on the day either.
Despite the changes, Mick’s aim this year is to raise a staggering £22,000 and I have no doubt that with his relentless optimism, determination and spirit, he will surpass this. The world needs more people like Mick and it’s a huge privilege us all at Progeny to be playing a small part in his efforts by covering his £2,000 costs for the event so that every penny raised will go directly to Martin House.
Find out more about why social responsibility matters to all of us at Progeny in this blog post.