A legacy for some is a massive building with their name on it. For others, it’s the memory that they were a good and true human being.
||Photo by: Maria Gagliardi
Martin Streek left behind several legacies when he died suddenly on July 6, 2009. A wildly popular announcer on Toronto’s EDGE 102.1, Martin was loved by those who knew him personally and by those who knew him solely as the voice on the radio.
This past June 13 and 14, The Ride To Conquer Cancer took place, with cyclists travelling the 200 kms. between Toronto and Niagara Falls over the two-day period. Streek was registered for the Ride, excitedly talking about the event on his shows and soliciting donors to help him achieve the $2,500 minimum it takes to participate in the big, bold event. Louis Garneau had even supplied Martin with a bike for the event.
That weekend, 3,530 participants raised $14.5 million for cancer research at Princess Margaret Hospital in the second annual Ride To Conquer Cancer. Unfortunately, Martin Streek was not one of them. Due to corporate restructuring, in May, The Edge had let Streek go. Out of work and without a platform on which to promote The Ride To Conquer Cancer, his donations and enthusiasm waned. He had reached 47% of his total, but without having achieved the minimum required, had not been able to participate in The Ride.
And then, the unforeseen occurred. Martin died unexpectedly.
Joni Mitchell sang, ‘Don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know what you got ‘til it’s gone.’ The outpouring of support in the wake of Martin’s death was unprecedented. Comments about Martin and what he meant flooded Facebook sites and blogs. There were on-air tributes and much media coverage.
On one of the several Facebook tribute sites, friends and fans gathered to share memories of Streek. One listener mentioned that he had been inspired by Martin, and because he had often heard the announcer talk about his upcoming Ride To Conquer Cancer, wondered whether Martin had, in fact, completed the Ride.
It was discovered by readers that Martin had not participated. But that spawned an idea. Because Martin had been enthused about the event and its cause of conquering cancer, several decided to fulfill Martin’s last benevolent wish and help him achieve his fundraising goal, in spite of the event having concluded.
“Oftentimes, when a person dies, people look to make a donation to a charity in the deceased person's name,” stated one post. “What better cause to donate to than one Martin had recently selected himself? Better, one that showed he had a goal yet-to-be-achieved.”
Very quickly, word spread. In fact, the viral community reacted with the speed of light. $10 here, $50 there. A few donated $102.10 to reflect the radio station at which they had listened to him. The numbers grew – 47% soon became 65%, then 80%. Within days, the total had surpassed 100%.
“It just shows that we can make a difference in our lifetime if everyone was as giving as the people on these pages,” wrote a friend. “It is indeed a beautiful way to honour Martin. I think he would be proud that his friends and fans cared so much for him.”
Helping others. What an extraordinary legacy for Martin Streek to leave behind.
If you’d care to support The Ride To Conquer Cancer, visit Martin’s site.