The Gift Horse

In A Clash of Kings, George R.R. Martin wrote that “a good act does not wash out the bad, nor a bad act the good. Each should have its own reward.”

Melbourne identity Mick Gatto does not believe his acts of charity will change people’s view of him, that he will be magically redeemed in the eyes of the good and great of Melbourne. Fortunately, he keeps working for good causes mainly because he can.

He has a broad network of contacts which he is happy to enlist to raise money for deserving charities. He’s raised money for bushfire victims, muscular dystrophy sufferers and other causes. He’s generous to friends and even some of his enemies.

For instance, Roberta Williams went to Gatto after husband Carl was jailed for ordering the killing of a number of his friends. Carl had left nothing for Roberta to feed the kids and it was Mick who had dipped into this pocket to help. And Carl had reportedly planned to kill him!

This week he handed over a cheque for $673 263 to fund the research of Sydney surgeon Dr Charlie Teo in the fight against brain cancer. Gatto raised the money at a gala dinner attended by 1200 people in Melbourne earlier this month.

I would have been there myself but I had to be in Sydney to be with my father when he needed me. Gatto’s famous for making offers people can’t refuse but this time my Dad had to come first.

Dr Teo was happy to take the money from Gatto even though he has copped a lot of flak for teaming up with the colourful identity. I liked his response in an interview with Ilya Gridneff of the Sydney Morning Herald.

“They said morally how can you take money from Mick, but morally how can I not fight cancer?” he asked. Exactly right, in my book. Teo is taking money to help save lives, not to make himself look good at cocktail parties. Gatto says he got involved with Teo after his intervention helped save a friend of his.

“I did what I had to do for a great man, Dr Teo,” Mr Gatto told the SMH.

My beloved friend Romaine Youdale died of a brain tumour in September last year, despite the best efforts of Charlie Teo. I wonder if Gatto or someone else had put that big cheque in Teo’s hands a few years ago whether she might still be alive today, or many others for that matter.

Romaine’s cancer was linked to mobile phone use, but many still say the jury is out on whether our love affair with smartphones is the cause of an increase in the incidence of brain cancer. Maybe we don’t want the answer. It’s too confronting to think that the appliance that we rely upon everyday might indeed be killing us.

Research will provide the answer and it costs big bucks. I frankly don’t care where the money comes from if it helps save the lives of more of my friends and loved ones. I want to applaud Gatto for getting out there and having a go.

That doesn’t mean that Gatto should be treated any differently if he breaks the law in the future, but he should be recognised when he does the right thing. Gatto hasn’t been banging down the door to get publicity for his good deed, he has just gone ahead and done it.

Another quote on redemption to close.

“There’s no need to talk about it, because the truth of what one says lies in what one does.”

The Reader by Bernhard Schlink

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2 thoughts on “The Gift Horse

  1. Mick Gatto saved my mothers life getting to Charlie Teo and I am truly thankful for that regards ( the son of Teresa Meo ) Charlie Meo.. Great story mr Shand and well written.

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