It's human nature to think that tragedy will never impact us directly. We see sad stories on the news, or on social media and think: "That could never be me. That could never be my family."
School shootings, kidnappings, robberies, and serious illnesses all feel a little less frightening when we hold them at arm's length. We don't want to believe that tragedy could possibly strike so close to home. That's why when Michael Too's wife, Linda Fong, was diagnosed with cancer in 2012, he was in disbelief.
"You don't think it can happen so close to you. Especially not to your wife."
In an interview with West Island News, Michael Too was not shy to emphasize his wife's vibrance, empathy, kindness, generosity, and love for others. It's these qualities that now, more than 5 years after her passing, Too is aiming to instill in his children, and spread throughout his community.
After Linda's courageous fight, and subsequent passing 6 years ago, Michael decided to combine two of his great loves - his wife and his job - to raise awareness and funds for cancer research. Since then, Too has teamed up with Mercedes-Benz West Island in a number of initiatives benefiting a variety of organizations.
If you're a fan of hockey, you've probably heard the name, Larry Robinson. Famous player and later coach, Robinson played with the Montreal Canadiens for a whopping 17 years. When a client at Mercedes-Benz mentioned having potential connections to the player, an idea in Michael lit up.
"I said to myself wouldn't it be cool if we did a car wash with Larry Robinson? And that's how it first started."
- Michael Too
For just 20$, participants could have their car washed and receive a signed autograph from Larry Robinson. The funds were later donated to the Ride to Conquer Cancer, benefiting the Jewish General Hospital. After just a few hours of washing cars and signing autographs, more than1500$ had been raised.
Throughout the course of his first fundraiser with Mercedes-Benz, Too had heard word that a special collection of whiskeys was going to be released in collaboration with some of Montreal's hockey hall-of-famers.
Michael personally purchased upwards of 50 of these collectible bottles. Once signed by his friends at the Habs, he then sold them for 500$ each, donating all profits to the Ride to Conquer Cancer. Later, Too even had the opportunity to train and subsequently participate in the ride, which lasts a whopping two days and expands across more than 200km.
As he was crossing the finish line, Michael made sure to revel in the special moment with his wife. By spreading a handful of her hair along the finish line - which he'd kept since the day chemo forced her to shave her head - he was able to share his triumph with Linda.
It's a tradition Michael has continued since his wife's passing.
"Every time my kids and I go on vacation, we always make sure to spread some of her hair off of our balcony. It's a way of honoring her and keeping her memory alive. The girls were very young when she passed, and I want them to know what impact Linda had on those around her."
- Michael Too
Since the onset of the pandemic, Michael Too has sought different ways to raise funds, all the while respecting public health measures and ensuring the safety of those he's involved with. His latest fundraiser, which benefited the Teresa Dellar Palliative Care Residence (where Linda spent her final days) raised more than 2000$.
Too, alongside Mercedes-Benz West Island had face masks made, which were then sold to members of the community. All the funds raised were donated to the Teresa Dellar Palliative Care Residence.
Michael Too, with the help of his daughters Madison and Megan, personally delivered each and every mask.
"It was important to me that my girls get to see the kind of qualities their mother stood for."
- Michael Too
It's a testament of love in its purest form, and we know this is just the beginning for Michael and all that he will do in his wife's honor. If you would like to donate to the Teresa Dellar palliative care residence, visit their website.
Be sure to keep up with Michael and his continued efforts to fight cancer by following Mercedes-Benz West Island on their social media platforms.