Two hundred and eighty two riders set out on their bicycles from Queen’s Park in Toronto on July 29 for the 14th annual Toronto People with AIDS Foundation (TPWAF) Friends for Life Bike Rally.
 
They’re bound for Montreal. Each rider has raised at least $2,200 to benefit TPWAF, which provides practical and therapeutic support services to those living with HIV/AIDS. But with competition for charitable donations growing ever more fierce, this year’s ride has about 20 fewer registered riders than did last year’s. Still, organizers say they expect to bring in about the same amount as last year.
 
“I’m comfortable predicting that we’ll raise at least $1.2 million,” says Robert Tomas, TPWAF director of philanthropy and communications. “That is a very good result.”
 
Tomas says the fundraising gap was closed because some of the participants were very successful in their canvassing efforts. “I believe we have 55 riders who are ahead of our top-fundraiser level of $6,000,” he says. “But it’s still not too late to sponsor a rider. We take donations until September.”
 
On July 31, day three of the ride, spirits were high as riders sported the traditional red dresses for the comparatively short 51-kilometre pedal from Adolphustown to Kingston. The spectacle made for a grand entrance to the city and, after camping for the first two nights, riders enjoyed some free time and a night in the residences of Queen’s University. It was good timing, as rain showers, the first of the rally, fell on Kingston later in the day.
 
“So far this is the best rally we could ever hope for,” Tomas says. “The weather has been cooperating, even though at times it has been pretty hot. The majority of our riders are just hitting their strides.”
 
Thomas, who has high praise for all the support volunteers who make the ride possible, says he suspects all the riders will complete the route in the end. The event is set to wrap up on Friday, Aug 3, in time for riders and crew to enjoy Divers/Cité celebrations in Montreal.   
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