"It's Greg's birthday! Everybody give Greg a hug!" Gabler shouted out for the 4th time that night. Everybody hugged Greg, the author of this blog. But it was not Greg's birthday. Mike made eye contact with me, laughing at the hilarity he had just caused. This is just the Gabler way. He tells stories that have a basis in truth, but are mostly not. But man are the stories entertaining. Gabler is crazy and funny and smart and always in for a good time, especially with good friends. He exudes joy when in his element and his joy is contagious.
Michael, Mike, Gabe, Gäbler (as it's written on everything he has ever owned), Phikeia Yahoo and now #Aligabler ... however you know him, he's a special and exceedingly unique guy. Even his parents call him "Gabler", his last name (or Michael when in trouble).
And Gabler has always been a giver.
So when he announced during the afterglow of winning #Survivor43 that he was giving away the entire $1 million in winnings, while it may have shocked most, it did not fully surprise those who know him well.
Mike Gabler is generous. He's generous with his time. He's generous with his talent. And - now the world knows - he is generous with his treasure.
He was one of my groomsmen almost 25 years ago, and I told everyone then, "Mike Gabler is the hardest working friend I have." And that sentiment remains. He truly cares about others, about relationships, about staying connected and feeling known.
He did not have to give it all to Veterans who are in need. He did not have to give even a portion of it. But he did.
It was rightfully his and his family's. Does he have a daughter in college and another daughter who'll head to college soon? Yes. Could he have used that $1 million for a long list of things that his family and friends might need (or at least want)? Yes.
But Mike Gabler saw outside of himself. He saw Veterans, 44 of whom commit suicide every day. Every. Day. Veterans suffer from PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder), they face financial hardship and homelessness, they are disabled, and the list goes on with challenges that plague our heroic veterans. They've served us, willing to risk all for their fellow Americans, and Mike saw the tremendous need.Serving those who have put their lives on the line for our country, and in doing so have provided the very freedoms we often overlook or take for granted, they deserve our attention and care.
"There are people who need that money more, and I'm going to donate the entire prize — the entire million-dollar prize, in my father's name, Robert Gabler, who was a Green Beret — to veterans in need who are recovering from psychiatric problems, PTSD and curb the suicide epidemic."
My family and I had the honor of being there at the final #Survivor43 watch party, together with his family and a few other friends. And - amazingly - he did not spoil the results. He kept the fact that he had won on full lockdown. Pretty impressive given he could have easily hinted or slipped up during the party ... not to mention the 6+ months since the filming of the show. Only he, his wife and his sweet daughters knew. So, when Aligabler (in contrast with the real-time Mike Gabler who we were with) was announced as the winner of Survivor 43, his face was priceless.
"We're gonna save lives, we're gonna do something good... Million dollars is going to them. We made history guys," he said.
|Good friends, Mike Gabler & Greg Dean|