I’m cycling 660km and need your help!

This coming Sunday I will be leaving Toronto for the six day bike trip to Montreal, cycling 660km with over 200 riders raising awareness and funds for PWA Toronto. PWA is a community-based organization that supports men, women and children living with the health, social and economic effects of HIV/AIDS.

Learn more about the Bike Rally and PWA Toronto here.

I am asking for your support in my final push to meet my fundraising goals and hope that you share my interest in supporting people in our community living with the profound effects of this fatal disease.

You can leave your pledge here.

Harnessing Social Media for People Living With HIV/AIDS

I’m excited to be cycling from Toronto to Montreal again this year in support of PWA Toronto, the Toronto People With AIDS Foundation. Last year was my first year doing the ride, and it was a remarkable experience. Yes, that kind of remarkable.

6 days, 600 km, 200 riders, 1 good cause. Last year we raised $600,000. I have no doubt that Co-chair Walter and the rest of team are going to pull out all the stops to surpass that milestone by a significant margin this year.

I learned a lot last year…about the human spirit, about the power of possibility, about our need to find ourselves in community with others. What seemed at first a distant impossibility was in the end a simple act of pedaling, one stroke after another.

I’m looking to my friends, colleagues, clients, blog readers and the members of the various communities of which I am a member to help me continue this journey this year. It is your support in the past that made last year possible, where I raised $2,500 for the Toronto People with AIDS Foundation. This year, my target is $5,000, and I hope to surpass that goal.

Please Pledge Me in the 2007 Bike Rally for PWA Toronto

I also want to experiment with social media tools to both enhance my fundraising efforts, to increase the profile of the event and to enhance and maintain the sense of community that gets created in the ever-evolving packs of riders on the road.

Many riders experience a post-Bike Rally depression. Believe it or not, we grieve: for the open road, for that sense of personal challenge and most of all for our wolfpack, our loose and shifting community which is a moving, living, breathing entity in its own right.

I have created an informal Facebook group for Bike Rally riders, crew, friends and supporters. The Bike Rally also collects a list of blogs, which I’ll share as well.

There is also a great opportunity to document the journey with blogs, photoblogs and videoblogs from the road. Anybody interested in volunteering as crew as part of a social media team? Can we get some sponsorship for EVDO wireless cards and service? There are hundreds of stories during the ride, and a huge extended community of interest who want to follow them and participate in them.

From Toronto to Montreal and back again

Many thanks to the wonderful sponsors who helped me raise $2,470 so far to support the Toronto People with AIDS Foundation. The total raised so far by the event is $660,000. Each of you wonderful people are part of something very special, and I want you to know how important it is and how much I appreciate your support. You can still donate here.

Route06

As a first-time rider, I was both nervous and excited about bicycling an average 100km per day for 6 days to Montreal. But from the moment I got on my trusty bike at Church/Wellesley in Toronto and rode out with Day 1 buddy Jerod, any fears melted away to the natural rhythms of the ride. For those who have expressed their amazement at such a physical challenge, it’s quite simple really: Just keep pedaling.

The ups and downs (geographic, physical and emotional) of the ride paid off in spectacular fashion as we filed through the bike paths along the Lachine canal into Old Montreal, a kilometer long snake of cyclists stopping traffic, at times without a visible beginning or end. Truly an amazing sight. Our welcome in Square Viger, the home base for this week’s first Outgames event in Montreal, was overwhelming. Hundreds of cheering supporters, our whole team of 220 riders, our amazingly supportive and fabulously campy crew, the Mayor of Montreal and Leader of the Opposition Bill Graham, everybody celebrating our accomplishment. It was a remarkable feeling of accomplishment for individual participants who are all part of a community success. We don’t ride the Bike Rally. We ARE the Bike Rally.

Why do we do it? We do it for the 35 brave HIV+ riders who were with us, for the many people around our city who live with the disease everyday – friends, loved ones and neighbours, many unseen and unknown. We ride for the man who is grieving the loss of his partner to AIDS in November of last year, searching for renewed purpose in life. We ride for the talented 12 year-old HIV+ girl who lost her mother and for her dad who wants her to have every opportunity for a happy future and a full life.

We also do it for ourselves, each of us with very personal experiences and individual journeys. The Bike Rally is a microcosm of life on this planet, each of us experiencing it from our own perspective but part of a larger mass that is moving through time and space in an interconnected dance. I will be processing my own personal meanings of this experience for some time to come, as I adjust back to everyday life. I look forward to riding again next year.

For riders and crew, I hope to see your pictures up on Flickr. Please remember to add the tag “bikerally2006” to your photos.

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Please support my Bike Rally fundraising efforts!

As many of my regular readers know, I will be cycling from Toronto to Montreal the last week of July to benefit PWA Toronto. After sprinting to a client project deadline in July, 6 days and 600km of cycling is my masochistic reward!

I would greatly appreciate your support of my fund-raising efforts. I need to raise $2000 by June 30th in order to keep my place on the ride, and hope to raise much more beyond that. Please donate what you can using this online donation page. (https://secure.e2rm.com/registrant/StartUp.aspx?SID=989685). You will receive a tax receipt directly from PWA Toronto.

And a big thank you to everyone who has already pledged their support!

Splash Br06-2

The Toronto People With AIDS Foundation provides critically needed services and support to people in the Toronto community who are living with the devastating physical, emotional, economic and social effects of HIV and AIDS. They are a fantastic organization that help people dealing with a fatal disease, many of whom are socially ostracized or rejected by family members.

Here are some of the programs your donation will support:

  • $150 supplies a family for one week with groceries (Food Bank),
  • $70 provides a massage once a week to a PHA suffering from neuropathy,
  • $60 covers 1 naturopathic appointment,
  • $50 covers 1 month of naturopathic medication,
  • $45 buys a 2 month supply of glutamine (helps alleviate wasting),
  • $35 buys 1 week of meals (Food For Life Program),
  • $30 buys 1 bottle of vitamins.

Thank you for your support!

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