Soldiers' Memorial Hospital Foundation’s first annual Soldiers' Ride event is quickly approaching.
The event takes place on June 4 starting at 8 a.m. and will take cyclists either 50 or 100 kilometres from Quayle's Brewery to North Simcoe and Muskoka before heading back through Coldwater.
Kaitlyn St. Pierre, the senior annual giving officer for the Soldiers' Memorial Hospital Foundation, says cycling is a growing sport in the area.
“It’s a sport that has really taken off,” she said. “It’s also a sport that’s enjoyed by a lot of community leaders, and medical leaders. It also aligns with our mission, vision, and values of the hospital.”
While the hospital foundation hosts golf tournaments, galas, and a 5-kilometre run, St. Pierre says those events are specific to the local Soldiers’ community. The cycling event aims to engage people from the local community and beyond.
“Because we are a regional hospital with a lot of regional programs, we do see patients from all across Simcoe and Muskoka,” she said. “We wanted an event that would draw in people from all around, and even as far and wide as Toronto and surrounding area.”
Carmine Stumpo, the president and CEO of Soldiers' Memorial Hospital, says he is "very excited" about the Soldiers' Ride event.
"This is a great area to cycle," he said. "We thought this would be the perfect blend of the natural beauty of Oro-Medonte going into Muskoka."
While Stumpo is a runner first, he's been cycling recently in training for the 100-kilometre challenge.
"I've realized that with the wear and tear on my body, doing something different in cross-training is a really good idea," he said. "Now in the summer, I'll split between running and cycling because it's a great way to stay fit and it's low impact."
Ian Gordon, who is in charge of safety for the event, says motorcyclists, pace cars, and local OPP officers will help guide cyclists on their journey.
"We will have an OPP officer stationed on Mt. St. Louis Road and the 12th Concession to get them through that without having to stop," he said. "There will be another OPP officer at the 12th Concession and Highway 12 to assist the riders to help them cross that highway."
Gordon says riders will be well supported with guidance and safety while on the road. OPP officers will also be utilized at five or six different locations around the route. A St. John's ambulance will also be attending the event along with two bicycle repair technicians.
In its first year, the event aims at raising $25,000 for the hospital’s greatest needs.
“It will go towards things like equipment,” St. Pierre said. “Ultrasound machines, bedside monitors, or pieces of equipment ... we have a capital list of what is needed for the hospital and what’s the biggest priority right now.”
So far, the event has already raised over $20,000. The top donors include Grand River Mechanical Services Ltd., Don McIsaac, Deb McNamee, and an anonymous donor who have each given $500.
"The fundraising is huge," Stumpo said. "We really appreciate the support we get from all the donors."
The minimum fundraising fee for riders is $250, which includes a premium lunch at Quayle’s. To register, click here.