Within picturesque Memorial Park in Port Credit, nurse the grounds were abuzz on the bright and sunny Saturday, May 29th as over 1000 cyclists from all over the Peel Region community arrived fresh from the 4th Annual Bike 4 Betty. The ride, run by the Trillium Health Centre, and co-founded by Kevin Wallace of Gears Bikeshop and Peter Willson of Willson International, is organized to raise funds for The Betty Wallace Health Centre and The Betty and Buster Lockwood Cancer Detection and Treatment Centre in support of cancer care services at Trillium (both located at the West Toronto location). This event is near and dear to Kevin Wallace’s heart as his mother Betty lost her courageous battle to breast cancer in 1993. As for Betty Jane and Hiram (Buster) Lockwood, they were generous contributors of their spirit and support of oncology care for the Trillium Health Centre for many years.
The ride started bright and early as the first round of participants for the 100 km portion of the race checked in to Memorial Park at 6:30 a.m. Five different races were organized (which was a mix of team challenges and single participants), and included the 100 km, 75 km, 30 km, 15 km and 2 km races. Granola bars and bottles of water, donated by Longo’s, and bananas donated by J.E. Russell Produce, were on hand to keep the cyclists well fed, hydrated, and happy. When the participants completed their races, finishing at Memorial Park, they were greeted by at least 200 high school volunteers in bright yellow t-shirts, and a festival like atmosphere. Toronto radio station, Kiss 92.5 FM, which was a new addition this year, was pumping the tunes to keep the crowd energized. There were a lot of activities to keep the children entertained as well including buskers, face painting, jumping castles (provided by JumpStart Inflatables) and even Mickey Mouse and Buzz Light Year mascots. Toronto BMX came out to show their support once again, as over 15 riders performed BMX demonstrations throughout the afternoon to entertain the teenage crowd, adults and children alike. And for those aching participants, they had the luxury of receiving a free massage donated from the many therapists on hand from various practices around the community, which included Everest College, MyHealth Care Centre and Pura Vida Health Clinic. And if this all weren’t enough, donations from Pizza Pizza, and a barbeque held by Delta Toronto Airport West, provided some eats for much needed refueling.
In all, Bike 4 Betty was a great success yet again. Event manager Miriam Myers and her 10 dedicated committee members have worked very hard for the last eight months to organize this event, and their hard work paid off. Participation increased by 400 riders from last year, and fundraising increased by 25% from $200,000 to $250,000. Marketing initiatives were developed within the community and schools to increase fundraising goals and create awareness. The committee produced at least “100,000 pieces” of marketing material, says Myers, which ranged from bus shelter posters, brochures, flyers, communications sent home with students from schools across the Peel region, and an insert within the Mississauga news (printing was generously donated by The Data Group of Companies in Mississauga). News of the event was also spread via online community event calendars, mass mailings to past participants, social media such as Facebook and Twitter, and the purchase of ten city signs that Myers staggered across the high traffic surrounding the events catchment area. As well, there was the addition of internal team challenges (comprised of ten or more Trillium staff members), created to engage Trillium staff in the event. The money they raise is put towards improving their respective departments within the hospital, which is definitely a worthwhile incentive. Forty-five external teams, whom have always been a part of the fundraising effort, and include many corporations, also participated.
If you would like more information on this fabulous event or about Trillium Health Centre or Trillium Health Centre Foundation please go http://www.trilliumhealthcentrefoundation.org/NetCommunity/. It is a wonderful event for a wonderful cause. Other Honorable Volunteer Mentions Are: Mississauga Fire Department; OPP