Have I told you about my friend Michael O’Connor Clarke?
Charming guy, friendly, with a great last name if only he spelled it correctly. Michael is one of those people who leave an impression, leave a mark, leave you laughing, everywhere they go. He’s eager to lend a hand, find solutions, make a difference and challenge set patterns of thought.
I first met Michael at Mesh, and while he asked the standard Torontonian question “what do you do?” He didn’t do what people normally do when I answered. Not Michael. Turns out he hadn’t just “heard of CheapEats”, like so many people. He owned a copy. He used it. He even knew it well enough to start telling me his favourite bits and how I could make it better. Then he dragged me into a session I wasn’t signed up for and we pushed ourselves through the crowds, right up to the front and plunk ourselves down on the floor. I’d found a friend!
A friend with a wicked sense of humour, incredible timing and a huge heart. I think we’ve sat together for at least one session at every Mesh since, though these days we usually use the chairs.
The first time I hear Michael present, he was talking Ethics. This year at Mesh he was speaking on how Social Media has ruined Marketing… and it’s touted as being one of the best sessions at the conference!
When we founded HoHoTO, I really had no idea who I was throwing my hat in with. Just that we wanted to throw a wicket party and support a very worthwhile cause – Daily Bread Food Bank – which was, as always, in dire need to help the people in our community who are hungry. I was overjoyed to find that Michael was another one of the disrupters who thought, like I did, that if we could help, we should help. And more importantly that “the hungry” and “the poor” aren’t abstract groups of “needie”, they are people deserving of respect and assistance from a place of compassion not pity.
We often found ourselves bouncing ideas, copy and concepts off each other. (Or at least that’s how I remember it… perhaps I just kept bouncing them off him.) The raffle, which was an unmitigated disaster year 1, was turned around by Michael’s brilliantly simple suggestion to allow people to enter draws for the prizes they actually wanted!
The Hangover Auction, named as such by Michael, was started with me saying rather cavalierly that I was going to “just auction off all unclaimed raffle prizes to raise more money for Daily Bread” and Michael’s serious response “that’s a great idea”. That quick exchange resulted in HoHoTO being cited by Queen Rania of Jordan as examples of online activism making an offline difference.
And of course no HoHoTO would be complete without Michael’s stack of name tags and the silly photos we take with the extra sticky stuff.
Michael is a master at tweaking copy to make it cheekier, funnier and more compelling. So I turned to him to help me with the first Secret Pickle Supper Club invitation and my bio. Michael wrote the best bio I’ve ever had and every time I read it I wonder “who is this marvelous woman Michael’s talking about”.
Michael makes me laugh and makes me think in equal measures every time I interact with him.
Why, you might wonder, am I writing all this about him?
Well, he’s sick. And not in the funny way. (okay, perhaps ALSO in the funny way) Problem is, Michael is really sick and he and his family needs our help.
Michael is in the hospital and has been since June. And he’ll be there for a while more. (Want details, read here)
There are a couple of ways you can help, and here they are:
- (easy) come to the #MOCCRocks Fundraiser on August 16th at Shoeless Joes. Ticket $25 >http://guestlistapp.com/events/115014
- (still pretty damned easy) donate anything from a couple of bucks, or a lot of bucks, every little and BIG bit helps. Donate once, donate often http://supportmichaelocc.ca/donate/
- (only slightly less easy) tell your friends cancer sucks and that Michael and his family need our help and then point them to the 2 links above.
- (certainly not hard) There are other ways to help, check SupportMichaelOCC.ca and/or contact me directly.
Then, because this is the kind of thing Michael would add but it would be funnier and more poignant, go and hug someone you love!