Whether it’s raising funds for the Childhood Cancer Foundation of South Africa (CHOC) or rescuing the survivors of a plane crash, there’s nothing Gordon Reid wouldn’t do to help others in need. He shares his journey through a healthy midlife crisis and why showing his daughters the good in the world, is his favourite part of being a dad.
“Parenthood is the hardest thing you will do in your life but it is also the most rewarding.”
I remember my days as a youth. I was a complete and utter rebel. I loved school for sport and friends, but the studying got in the way. Sadly, I only developed my competitive streak later in life, but I’m confident my girls will find their passions, discover their potentials and realise their dreams way before I ever did.”
Self-dubbed an eternal optimist, Gords (as everybody calls him) is one of Durban North’s most popular and well-liked digital marketing entrepreneurs. At 47, he’s husband to Simone and father to Amy (15) and Erin (13) who are incredibly proud of what he has achieved and how hard he strives to help change the lives of others.
“I’m an entrepreneur and have been in sales most of my life. I love networking, connecting with like-minded people and meeting new people. A huge part of my life is also dedicated to helping others. But, there was a time when I never really thought about doing the things I do now. I guess I was a little self-centered.”
That all changed for Gordon 15 years ago, when he and a handful of others helped rescue a family after the light aircraft they were being flown in crashed into a house near Virginia Airport.
“We watched in horror as it all happened. It was a sickening feeling. Being close by, we were among the first on scene and immediately began helping the family out of the wreckage, but most of us were running around like headless chickens. My brother-in-law on the other hand remained calm throughout the rescue. It was only later on that I realised how important a cool head is in a hectic situation.”
By the time he turned 40 the 5 operations all happened in one year, Gordon had undergone five general anesthetic operations and decided it was time to embark on a ‘healthy midlife crisis’.
“I saw a picture of a friend of mine cycling in a Cow suit and thought it looked like fun. The CHOC Cows just happened to be launching in KZN the following week and I had to see what all the hype was about. The herd’s slogan is #LoveLivingLife, and they believe we should be pushing ourselves and living to the max to honour children fighting cancer. I thought it was such an amazing idea to make a difference to children battling this disease. Cycling in the cow kit takes the competitive element out of the races, and allows us to have fun and focus our passion on creating cancer awareness.“
Each year the herd of splotchy cows cycle in various races like the Tour Durban, Tsogo Sun Amashova Cycle Race and the 94.7 Cycle Challenge to raise funds for the organisation. (Comrades, and Midmar mile are huge for Cows. Cape Epic, Fish River Canoe Marathon, Dusi Canoe marathon and just about anything anyone wants to do are also done in Cow Print.
“I’ve also completed several Midmar Miles and Midlands Ultra Triathlons ((1.9km swim, 90km cycle and a 21.1k run) to raise funds for the ‘moo’vement. Seven years later, whether it’s hiking, biking, walking, swimming, triathlons or cycling the Amashova on an ice-cream bike, I’ve done more than 4500km in a Cow suit, and together with the amazing KZN committee, raised in excess of R7 million for CHOC.”
Understanding the purpose behind the charity, Gordon says, is the driving force that inspires him and his fellow herd members to do more, and to challenge themselves to push their limits. And what makes it even more doable, is the fact that he is supported, and often joined by Simone and the girls.
“My wife is driven and successful, my kids are my grounding, and new opportunities, challenges and experiences keep me motivated. Also, to be able to show my wife and kids how much awareness we can create through small actions is very rewarding. They have all always supported my crazy ideas, adventures and choices, and I love them even more for that.”
“I have recently stepped down from the CHOC Cow Committee to focus my efforts in fundraising for various charities, and in 2019 founded Get Hands On Events. Through coordinating, implementing, and participating in a 24-hour Handcycle Relay Race I hosted, our team raised more than R50 000 for Ethembeni School for physically disabled and visually impaired children in Cato Ridge.”
Pre-lockdown, Gordon developed and sold two concept events to eight out of the 11 largest malls in South Africa. They were meant to have their inaugural event at Gateway Theatre of Shopping in May and then take things countrywide, but the Coronavirus pandemic scuppered their plans.
“I’m currently pitching to investors to develop an app so that I can take Get Hands On Events around the world. I’m fascinated with where the online space is moving. Tech is the future of eventing, so we have to adapt or die, in my humble opinion – just like we’ve had to with lockdown. Lockdown Level5 was wake up and work, followed by exercise. Level 4 was wake up and exercise followed by work and I’m hoping Level 3 will put an end to all the balls I’m juggling right now.”
“All too often we lose sight of what is most important in life. While I work extremely hard in both my professional and private life to help people, my biggest motivation to get out of bed is my family. I never leave home without my laptop and notebook, my gym bag with boardshorts and running kit just in case I get time to sneak in a swim or run at North Beach during the day, and StaminoGro – the only multivitamin I take which is incredible. Very high in Vitamin B and Amino Acids it genuinely helps with recovery times and increased endurance.
“My dad was the kindest, most gentle human being. He could fix anything from the TV to a car, and he worked hard to make sure we always had everything we needed. Maybe a little too hard, bless his cotton socks.”
“My dad always taught me that hard work pays dividends, but working smarter is the way to go. He also used to remind me that if I chased my passion, I’d never work a day in my life. He opened my eyes to the fact that we are never too old for a happy childhood. I think kids grow up too quickly nowadays and forget to be kids, so I’m always the first to have a little fun with my girls and try to be the oldest kid in the house.”
“I love that each of my girls are completely unique. Amy is outgoing, confident, easy going and lives life to the full. Erin is quietly confident, patient, artistic and has a hidden competitive streak. Being there to guide them and show them all the good in the world is my favorite part about being their dad. Life is incredible, and made even more special by sharing a positive outlook and mindset with them.”
When it comes to what makes a great dad, Gordon says being present, listening, gently guiding and allowing mistakes to happen without judging is so important. Acknowledging our own flaws and encouraging each other’s best character traits and achievements, he says is also essential to the wellbeing and happiness of all.
“As kids, celebrating Father’s Day was often spent working with my dad, just so we could be close to him. Now, with kids of my own, Father’s Day has a much greater impact on me because my girls go out of their way to make the day extra special. We do the typical breakfast in bed, followed by the less traditional ‘let’s do something I feel like today but that mum will also enjoy. It works!”
Given how much most people have had to give up during lockdown, and how much life has changed, Gordon says his Father’s Day desires are nothing more than a swim in the sea, followed by breakfast and an afternoon braai with his family.
“If the restrictions have taught us anything, it is that we can live with less, materially, and that we benefit more emotionally from quality time together. I don’t see the need for expensive offices anymore. Not much will change from Level 4 to Level 3 I don’t think, but I’d really like to see my hairdresser and take my dog to the parlor and of course, when it’s safe to go anywhere for a weekend getaway, the first place we’ll be going to is the Midlands.”
“The time we managed to spend together as a family during lockdown has actually been incredible. It’s time we wouldn’t have had together. We did it all – triathlons, runs, yoga sessions, reading, tanning, home brewing, soul searching, camp outs and DIY for days. The house is immaculate and it’s been great to have had time to do all of the things we don’t normally have time for. Besides the financial pressure and uncertainty of being locked up, we have loved it as a family and will have simpler lives going forward.”
Professional Photos by: Penny Katz Photography, pennykatzphotography.myportfolio.com, e-mail [email protected], 083 214 0692