Community Crusader: Richard Laskey

Image credit: The Cows.

Compiled by Meggan McCarthy

Bedfordview resident Richard Laskey is an ambassador and one of the founding members of The Cows, an initiative that raises funds for the CHOC organisation, which helps children with cancer. To date, The Cows have raised over R44 million for CHOC. Richard is also Sales Director at Modern Athlete and father to three young girls: Tanika, Skyla and Maddison.

The CHOC Cow initiative was started in 2008 by a group of eight enthusiastic cyclists, including Laskey, who were keen to make a difference and to raise money for a much needed cause. The Cows have come a long way since their first cycling event – the 94.7 Cycle Challenge. They have taken part (clad in their furry cow suits) in sporting events such as the Comrades Marathon, Dusi, Midmar Mile and more.

Richard at the 2018 Comrades Marathon.

What keeps you motivated to make a difference, not just with The Cows, but in your community?

I believe that we all need to pitch in to help others. People say you only live once; you don’t, you live each and every day, you only die once. So whilst I am alive, I want to be able to do things for others to help them live a better life. I need my girls to realise that there is nothing they cannot do – they are capable of anything.

What current projects/initiatives are you involved in?

Besides The Cows initiative, I’m trying to encourage business to come back to the Edenvale CBD by making it safer and more pretty and attractive.

Richard was also recently involved in an initiative with others, where they walked around a mall wearing placards with ‘#FreeHugs’ written on, and gave hugs and comfort to mall-goers. ‘It was all about trying to put a smile on people’s faces. Loads of folk are going through troubles and have nowhere to turn, so this was about offering some comfort and allowing them to talk about things if they felt the urge to do so,’ says Richard.

Richard (second from left), who was part of the #FreeHugs initiative.

He is also setting up a mentorship programme, where young men and boys can turn to for advice, guidance, mentorship and help as well as where issues such as alcohol, drugs, violence, rape, homophobia, etc. can be addressed. A forum where they will not be judged. The project is called: #iwillmakeadifference and it forms part of a new charity under the banner GMF.

‘So many young men and boys don’t have father figures and or role models and as a result, have not been taught how to treat and respect themselves, ladies and the elderly. In this programme, we embark on a journey to rectify that. Those who want to get involved can visit, where they can also make a donation with the reference #iwillmakeadifference’.

What advice do you have for people to get more involved in the community, but don’t think they have the time, skills etc.?

Don’t overthink things. So many charities/organisations just require hands to assist, it’s not necessarily a skill, but rather wanting to help others. Just volunteer some of your time – a couple of hours may seem too small, but it means so much to those in need.

What goals do you have for the CHOC cows as well as making a difference in your community and beyond?

The goals remain helping kids to fight cancer through various platforms and avenues, be that purchasing new houses, new vehicles, upgrading hospitals and training new social workers. I also encourage youngsters to get involved in helping as volunteers in any groups, as they will see the value and joy in helping others.

Who is your greatest role model?

Bob Marley. I live by his life philosophy: ‘Open your eyes, look within, are you satisfied with the life you are living?’

Besides sports, what other interests/hobbies do you have?

I love reading and writing poetry. I also adore animals, especially snakes.

Anything else you’d like to share?

I’m grateful for the opportunity to share my story, as it’s all about trying to encourage and inspire others to make a difference. You don’t need to be a celebrity or a sports star to make an impression or a difference, we all have the ability to help change the lives of others. Just do something small each and every day for someone, be it a smile as you walk past someone, or let a motorist in during peak hour traffic, etc.

Also make it a habit to ask each and every person what their name is when you meet them and call them by their name, be it the cashier, your waiter/waitress or the petrol attendant. It’s something so simple, but so empowering.

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