• lharrison23

Innovative, Virtual Friends for Life Bike Rally

Toronto, ON – Any other year, the Friends for Life Bike Rally would be a challenging, multi-day event that has participants cycling 600 kilometres through busy streets, hilly terrain and scenic countryside from Toronto to Montreal. The rally raises funds to provide financial aid, access to affordable medications, food programs and more for those living with HIV/AIDS all along the route, particularly in the major centres of Toronto, Kingston and Montréal.

Richard Whittaker has participated in the rally since 2006, but this year his involvement has been transformed by COVID-19. With 15 years of experience contributing to the Toronto People with AIDS (PWA) Foundation, Richard is a member of the rally steering committee and oversees rally recruitment. The pandemic has forced everyone involved to be more creative.

“My friend Chad is swimming across a large body of water near Bath, which is part of the St. Lawrence seaway,” says Richard. “He’s going to try swimming from one side to the other. It’s remarkable. I’m sponsoring him because I can’t imagine doing that. Others are planning bike routes around Ontario and Quebec.”

Cycling is a part of life for Richard, so he expects that he will complete back to back training rides during the Virtual Bike Rally from August 9 -14, 2020. “I cycle all the time in Toronto. I have clients in the east end and west end, so some days I cross the city two or three times often cycling 40 to 50 kilometres per day.”

In addition to his efforts for the rally, Richard is planning a cabaret for October to raise thousands of dollars for PWA. He was inspired by his experience last year co-hosting and performing at One Brave Night for Mental Health.

The Toronto People With AIDS Foundation (PWA) is a lifeline for more than 2,500 men, transmen, women, transwomen and children living with HIV/AIDS. To register for the 2020 Virtual Bike Rally or to sponsor participants including Richard, please visit www.bikerally.org.

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