As long as there’s a reason, there’s a ride
Toronto – On Sunday August 11th, 2019, the Toronto People with AIDS Foundation’s (PWA)
Friends for Life Bike Rally will leave Toronto with about 200 cyclists, 100 crew members, and a fundraising goal of $1.4 million. The Bike Rally will become a small, travelling town on wheels, cycling more than 600 km along the shores of Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence, arriving in Montréal on the afternoon of Friday, August 16th.
The rally is expected to pass through our area on day 4 of the tour as it ventures from Kingston, Ontario to Johnstown. The 110 km leg of the tour will begin at Queens University in Kingston with break stops and lunch in Gananoque, Brown’s Bay and Brockville before ending the day at the Grenville Park Campground in Johnstown.
The rally will pick up Day 5 and travel 108 kms to Lancaster with stops in Morrisburg, Milles Roches Island and Corwall before ending the day at Glengarry Park Campground in Lancaster.
The Bike Rally began in 1999 as an emergency response by two Toronto friends for their friends, and remains a grassroots, volunteer-driven fundraiser to this day. The Bike Rally has grown to become the sustaining fundraiser for PWA, allowing the foundation to continue providing critical, lifesaving, and enriching care for more than 2,900 people living with or impacted by HIV/AIDS every year.
The largest AIDS fundraiser of its kind in Canada, the annual Friends For Life Bike Rally has raised more than $16 million for the foundation over its history. PWA is the largest direct support service provider for people living with HIV/AIDS in Canada, providing meal and food programs, treatment access support, alternative therapy programs, educational programs, and financial assistance. PWA’s Community Access programs also connect people to community services such as government income programs, counselling, employment, housing, legal, and medical services.
“The more time I spend involved with the Bike Rally, the more I realize what a remarkable and unique fundraiser it is. Not only is it the sustaining fundraiser for PWA, vital to the services they provide clients, it is a sustaining force for the people in the community it creates. The Bike Rally changes lives – those of the clients who use the services it funds, and those of the participants. I see it as an opportunity for regular people to create dramatic, relevant, and almost immediate change.”
Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, Chair PWA’s Friends For Life Bike Rally
“For over 30 years, the Toronto People with AIDS Foundation has been providing practical services, a safe space, connection to critical services, and transformative engagement for people living with HIV/AIDS. Without the Friends for Life Bike Rally, PWA’s signature fundraising event, our work would just not be possible. Since the Bike Rally began in 1999 thousands of people have worked so incredibly hard, boldly challenging themselves to provide crew support or to ride their bikes from Toronto to Montréal. In the process, they have raised millions of dollars, proudly educated people about the cause, and fought against HIV stigma all across Ontario on their way. We have so much to be proud of as we celebrate the unbelievable achievement of how far we’ve come and of the Bike Rally and its enormous contribution to supporting people living with HIV/AIDS in Toronto!”
Suzanne Paddock, Executive Director Toronto People With AIDS Foundation
Quotes from Clients of Toronto PWA
“Thank you for the hard work and sacrifices that people on the Bike Rally and their supporters have made to help me and my son.”
“I am a volunteer and client at PWA. I know from experience that the Bike Rally has helped to change my life and I see how it changes the lives of so many others.”
“I went to the [Bike Rally] departure ceremony and could not believe how many people were smiling and excited to do this amazing thing. I know that I am only one person but I truly saw them doing this for me, that they cared about me. It was pure love.”
Quotes from Participants of the Bike Rally
“I like being a part of something bigger than me. Community and kindness prevail. I look forward to it each year and the unique experiences that it brings.”
“I did the Bike Rally as an act of love for the person I was riding for. I also wanted to educate myself, become a better ally, and help fight stigma. But I got so much more from the Rally than that. I made friends, I was surrounded by love for an entire week, and I learned how much I am capable of physically. It was so challenging and so rewarding.”
“I do the Bike Rally because it has been one of the most amazing experiences of my life and it continues to inspire me to do more and to be better.”
Key PWA Facts
• Toronto People With AIDS Foundation is the largest direct support service provider for people living with HIV/AIDS (PHA) in Canada.
• 300 new clients are registered at PWA on average each year.
• PWA provides over a quarter of a million (250,000) services each year:
• Practical Supports – food, financial assistance, vitamin supplements
• Community Access – assistance accessing government income programs (ODSP, CPP, OW, EI), medical referrals
• Health & Therapeutic Care – massage, acupuncture, dental, and reiki
• Dreaming & Engagement – skill development, social connection and outreach, pet support
• Psychosocial rehabilitation – reminding individuals living with HIV/AIDS of their innate value as human beings and teaching them self-confidence
• Financial Assistance and Food Security programming are the most accessed programs:
• $180,000 in financial support is giving annually for items such as medical expenses, emergency veterinary expenses, and winter clothing
• 8,800 visits to the Essentials Market Food Bank
• Over 2,200 home delivered meals
• PHAs accessed over 3,000 health and wellness services each year including massage, dental, reiki, and acupuncture.
• PHA Outreach volunteers tell their stories about living with HIV in their communities over 2,500 times annually
• Volunteers provided 68,000 hours annually supporting PWA programming and activities, specifically:
• 45,000 hours toward planning and implementing PWA’s Friends For Life Bike Rally
• 23 000 hours supporting program and service delivery to PHAs
Key PWA Achievements
• First AIDS Service Organization (ASO) to offer short-term compassionate access to HIV treatments and medications in Canada
• Lead agency in the only PHA designated home meal delivery program in Toronto
• First agency to offer financial assistance to help cover medical and therapeutic treatment costs in Toronto
• Founding partner of the only free, PHA Naturopathic Clinic in North America
• Partnerships in research and education that formally utilize PHAs in the training of medical doctors and other healthcare professionals in HIV/AIDS.
• Leader in developing and supporting innovative Peer programming – programs lead by PHAs for PHAs including:
• Speakers Bureau – Trained volunteer PHAs speak about living with HIV at public schools, post-secondary institutions, health centres, correctional facilities, etc.
• Circle of Care – Female PHAs provide support to one another as they navigate the social service system. Providing advice, language interpretation, and companionship
• Poz Prevention – staff and peer educators provide peer consultations, training to other health service providers, and social group discussions around sexual health and poz prevention.