Friday, June 19, 2009

For Those Who Suffer...They Ride

Next week is the Cannes Advertising Festival. To many people Cannes is synonymous with Hedonism, self-promotion and general, overall selfishness. Mostly, these are the people who won't be going.

I will be going.

Nevertheless I agree with the accusations. The words charity and sacrifice do not usually pop up when discussing the festival (unless you consider charity to be buying endless rounds of tequila and sacrifice to be the act of accepting endless rounds of tequila). But on June 24th Cannes will witness the embodiment of great charity and sacrifice. On that day the riders of the annual The Fireflies Ride will finish up an eight day cycling tour and roll into Cannes. The considerable money that the riders raise will be donated to Leuka, a charity that benefits the treatment of leukemia.

I am very proud to report that two members of the Framestore family are burning their thigh muscles through the French Alps as I write this very comfortably at my desk with a hot cup of coffee in my hand. David Hulin and Kevin Rooney are both participating in the ride and the CG department of Framestore seems a little depressed without them. Alex Thomas, a talented Flame artist at Framestore, was set to do the ride for an impressive 3rd time until he had a cycling accident that led to emergency surgery. Talk about sacrifice. But it's not about Framestore. Several of The Mill guys are on the ride and many other agencies and production companies are represented as well.

The Fireflies Ride was started in 2000 by Ridley Scott's production company, RSA Films. With their motto "For Those Who Suffer We Ride" serving as a constant reminder of why they agreed to the physical torture in the first place, the riders will once again travel 1000 km across the French Alps from Geneva to Cannes. And it's not just the ride that is proof of their commitment. This is the culmination of months' of training by all. They have sacrificed hundreds of hours of their time to get those hard miles under their belt. As I write they are digging deep and hoping that their hours of lonely rides into the hills of Hertfordshire or the sweat they left on Bear Mountain, NY or across the Palisades in LA prepared them for the gruelling slog over Mont Blanc. And all that training was time spent apart from those they loved - in this industry there aren't too many of those hours in the first place.

I have stood on the finishing line for several years waiting for the pack to descend and it is quite an emotional moment. These people are champions and rightly are regarded as Cannes royalty but anyone who has ever ridden a bike will know that the prospect of adulation alone will not get you over the Alps in eight days. These people are riding for a cause and that is a huge motivation as they climb and descend mountains for over 1000km. I could not be more proud to be part of a community that can find a way to come together like this when things need to be done for the greater good.

According to the Fireflies website they have raised 700,000 pounds in the last nine years. That money has contributed to Leukemia scientists and laboratory workers and has allowed for the purchase of some very necessary, and very pricy, medical equipment.

I may not be ready for the sacrifice that is necessary to complete the trek through the mountains, but I am ready to sacrifice a little of the money that I might have blown on overpriced glasses of wine in Cannes. If you feel capable of similar sacrifice and charity...

It is not too late to donate.