Richard Whittaker, a sales rep with Sutton Group – Associates Realty in Toronto, recently biked 600 km through all sorts of terrain, in traffic, and up long hills in sweltering summer heat. He had to raise a minimum of $2,500 to take part in the Friends for Life Bike Rally, which he did by brushing up on his piano, singing and dancing skills to be part of a cabaret performance that raised $8,000 for his entry fee. This year marked his eighth time he has participated in the rally.
“There was a good turnout this year and together we raised $1.7 million for the Toronto People With AIDS Foundation,” says Whittaker. “That amount is staggering – a breakthrough for the 20th anniversary of the rally.”
The multi-day ride began in Toronto on July 29 and meandered through the picturesque countryside and towns along Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River to finish in Montreal on Aug. 3.
His decision to participate this time was not easy. “I took the last three years off cycling to deal with my family and personal things, so getting back on the bike was a challenge. This is a very long ride and, because of the brutal heat waves this summer, I was hesitant, but decided to go. As it turned out, we got lucky with the weather. It was relatively cool and nearby storms passed us by.”
It was also a more poignant ride. In preparation for previous rallies, Whittaker volunteered his time to train and encourage other riders. Sadly, these people, including one of his close friends, have died.
The Toronto People With AIDS Foundation (PWA) provides direct support to more than 2,500 men, transmen, women, transwomen and children living with HIV/AIDS. To register for the 2019 event or to sponsor participants, visit www.bikerally.org.