Mike Garland, a former heavy equipment operator and supervisor at Xcel Energy now spends his retirement days raising funds and creating awareness for the American Cancer Society in ways that one wouldn’t imagine.  

Shortly after retiring in 2014, Mike set off on a 32-day day bike ride from Becker, Minnesota to Ashland, Oregon with the goal of raising $5,000 for the American Cancer Society. 

Altogether, the trip was a total of 3,742 miles.

The idea to raise funds for the American Cancer Society was sparked by his father, grandfather and several other family members who lost their battles with cancer. The idea was also inspired by Mike’s wife who is a survivor of breast cancer.

Although the goal was to raise $5,000 during his bike ride across the country, Mike shockingly surpassed that goal by raising $14,338. As he made his way across the country alone, Mike’s wife and daughter helped with promotional work by posting on Facebook and getting the word out. 

The following year, Mike brainstormed ideas to raise more funds for the American Cancer Society. A previously mentioned idea of hiking across the Pacific Crest Trail was an idea that he could not get out of his head. In 2016, he set off on his second great expedition by bringing this idea to life. 

The hike from Mexico to Canada was far from a simple task. Along the way, Mike encountered many obstacles and illnesses. In the desert he got Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease. In a few other instances his feet became so badly infected by the swelling blisters from the hike that he struggled to walk. 

One of the scariest moments; however, was when he attempted to cross a small body of water and got swept 30-40 feet away by the current.

“There are a lot of things like this that happen but you’re not really able to share this on your Facebook page,” said Mike.

After encountering wild animals, illnesses and various challenges, Mike made it to Canada after 133 days. This time around, he raised $15.708, all of which were donated to the American Cancer Society.

Mike went on his third and final arduous expedition in 2017 with the goal to once again to raise funds. This time, Mike canoed across the Mississippi River. Altogether the trip took him a total of 62 days and this time he raised $10,382. 

In 2018, Mike received a knee replacement due to wear and tear in both knees in an attempt to walk the Continental Divide. Unable to take on anymore physical challenges for the time being Mike and his family continued to raise funds close to home. 

During the cold winter months, Mike can be seen snow-blowing 25 to 30 driveways per day for donations. Since 2018, his family has cooked hamburgers and hot dogs at Beck’s Pub in Becker. Altogether, the cookout raised approximately $1,500 that went to food, water and toiletries for the cancer patients who stay at the Hope Lodge in Minneapolis.

“My goal has and always will be to raise awareness and money to help find a cure for cancer,” said Mike. 

“Mike does an amazing job raising funds year-round,” said Matt Flory, the Senior Manager of the Cancer Control Strategic Partnerships at the American Cancer Society. “His passion is greatly appreciated and his recent donations to the Twin Cities Hope Lodge will help us comfort cancer patients who are staying with us while they are in treatment”.

The Twin Cities Hope Lodge is a home away from home for cancer patients and caregivers who have travelled to Minneapolis for treatment. According to the American Cancer Society’s website, “Each Hope Lodge community offers a supportive, homelike environment where guests can share a meal, join in the evening’s or unwind in their private room.”

To date, Mike has raised over $70,000 for the American Cancer Society since he began his volunteer work in 2014. This is not including donations of his own that he has made to the Richard M. Schultz Hope Lodge in Minneapolis.

Mike’s book Mike+You=Cure can be purchased on Amazon, as well as in some bookstores. All proceeds from the books go to the American Cancer Society.

“We encourage anyone that wants to donate money or time to help find a cure for cancer to reach out to the American Cancer Society at www.cancer.org or the Central Minnesota American Cancer Society at 651-255-8100,” said Mike. “Any and all donations will be put to good use.”

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