Mojo Rider Raising Money Madness -- Story Sam Scott, Photo by Bill Fehr
Michael Gibbons jumps into things. Four years ago he chanced upon the Charlotte Criterium, and the next week he was a newly minted cyclist.
"From the first day I got on the bike I loved it," he said.
But Gibbons' evolution into a 100 mile-a-week cyclist isn't as impressive as his rapid rise as an organizer of other bikers.
Within months of starting riding, Gibbons began putting together a team whose day-glo pink and lime-green uniforms have become a constant on Charlotte-area roads and a symbol of fundraising power.
Since 2005, Team Mojo Riding has raised more than $250,000, including $51,000 this year at the 24 Hours of Booty, a fundraiser for the Lance Armstrong Foundation and other cancer charities.
It was the second year in a row that Mojo topped all others at Booty in fundraising, Gibbons said.
Helping others though isn't just Gibbons' hobby, it's also his business. Before his first Booty ride in 2005, Gibbons got the idea to make a button showing who he was riding for - Dale Lewis, a cousin dying from cancer.
The two had been close growing up, but had drifted apart as adults. But when Gibbons called Lewis up to see if he minded a button in his honor, his cousin's reaction touched him.
"He was so thrilled and humbled I'd do this ride for him," Gibbons said. "It told me there were a lot of Dales out there."
And so was born Buttons of Hope, Gibbons' business which allows people to make customized buttons in honor of those battling diseases, those who succumbed to them and others they want to remember or share.
The buttons are only a little more than 2-inches in diameter, but their power is in the faces beaming out, Gibbons said.
"If you can see someone's face, that tells a story," he said.
The buttons make excellent ways to inspire people to donate, to show loved ones you care and to spread a message, Gibbons said. His clients include the Polly Klaas Foundation, which uses the pins to show missing children.