We were overjoyed to hear that you all helped raise $15,000 for the Friends for Life Bike Rally and Toronto People with AIDS Foundation, and have been continually impressed with the strength and spirit of Toronto’s many diverse communities that rallied around such an important cause. Since Friday’s kick-off party, we’ve had several people come forward and ask:
Can I still donate to SpinTO? How can I support the Friends for Life Bike Rally and Toronto People with AIDS Foundation?
We’re excited to announce that we’re kicking off the next phase of the SpinTO project, which will turn our focus directly on the Bike Rally participants themselves. To kick things off, we’re profiling all of the volunteers and participants from the Bike Rally that helped make SpinTO’s kick-off party a reality last week and the Goldsprints winners. All personal sponsorships go directly to the Toronto People with AIDS Foundation and donations over $20 will receive a charitable tax receipt.
Wade Borges (Rider, Captain)
The catalyst for my joining the Bike Rally came four years ago, when my partner at the time tested positive for HIV. I wanted to help him out as best I could, and PWA through the Bike Rally seemed like the place to start. Four years later, that driving factor has changed.
Today, while he is still on my mind, I also do the ride for all of PWA’s clients – past, present and future; for my friends who suffer in silence w/HIV; for my friends who fight boldly through the challenges and stigmas of being positive; and last but not least for the loved ones we’ve all lost.
Mike Clark (Rider)
I love cycling and participating in the Bike Rally is a fantastic way for me to spend a week doing so and the whole enormous gang of people involved with the Rally (from riders to all the support crews) are an amazing bunch to spend time with.
I really stand behind the work that the people at the Toronto People With AIDS Foundation do and love that the PWA helps people living with HIV/AIDS by giving them practical day-to-day support, from food bank programs and vitamin supplements to other simple things like a decent haircut. I do the Bike Rally every year because I know it’s going to make an important and positive difference in the quality of life for people living in my community.
Last year Mark (Kuznicki) and I were chatting and within about three minutes he had convinced me to register and ride – it really wasn’t a hard sell. The work that the PWA does is invaluable today and, with the support of our sponsors, will continue to exist to serve and sustain the people in this city living with HIV/AIDS.
I’ve been volunteering in the community for about 12 years now, helping celebrate queer identity and, within Pride Toronto, being responsible for the health and wellbeing of a million or so people at Toronto’s Pride festival. I see participating in the bike rally as one more way that I can help sustain my community, and, perhaps selfishly, ensure that if worst comes to worst, the PWA will be there for me, too.
This is my fifth time riding, and my seventh year involved with the Bike Rally. I went as a Rubber maid wrester the first year, then rode for four years, then took a year off, and then my partner Peter and I both went last year as Road Safety crew. This year Peter and I are both riding. I am riding because I can, I have been HIV positive for 17 years, and am healthy and fit, and so I ride for all my friends who are not as well off as I am, so we can make a diffence.
I also have been volunteering with the Toronto People with Aids Foundation, on the Speakers Bureau (15 years) and have been speaking at schools, colleges and Universities to who ever wants to listen to help spread the word about prevention and education around HIV/Aids. Over the past 15 years I have spoken to over 40,000 people in Toronto. It is very rewarding, and riding is just another extension of doing a speak and educating others.
Greg Manuel (Rider, Captain)
I’m again riding this year for everyone I’ve met over the years who has been affected in some way by HIV and AIDS. The PWA is an amazing support network and the Bike Rally provides an opportunity to really spend time and engage with new friends and family in a way that I hadn’t expected. It was the best experience of last year for me and its already proving to be incredible this year. It’s called the Friends For Life Bike Rally for a reason!
Jaime Woo (Road Crew)
At first, I joined the volunteer crew because two of my friends, Mark and Adam, were passionate about the cause and I found their determination magnetic. I got to learn about the cause and I came to appreciate the hard work and tangible benefit the Bike Rally and PWA have on not just the city, but beyond to the province and even the country. At the end of the day, I had no reasons as to why not to help and it’s been a decision without regret.
Michael Cress (Rider, Bike Rally Co-chair)
I ride because I can when so many others can’t. I originally joined the Bike rally to support the Toronto People With AIDS Foundation to give back. However, each year it seems i get back so much more than what I put in – friends comradarie, laughs and fun are just a few example.
The Toronto People With AIDS Foundation was very helpful a few years back when I started to have to take HIV medication. I was treated with the utmost of respect and confidentiality when i first walked through the doors as a client seeking help and information. Their Treatment Resource Coordinator provided invaluable support and information about HIV medications, potential side effects and medication options.
I am one of the lucky ones. My side effects are few, my health is great and I have a wonderful support network of friends and a very close and caring family. This will be my 8th year doing the ride, I am proud and honoured to be Co-Chair this year with Todd Ross. The ride has become part of my summer now, and each year I dedicate the ride in memory of so many friends who aren’t here to do the ride. It is also my own personal, ‘#### you’ to AIDS, ‘you won’t get the better of me.’ Hopefully my riding and fundraising is making a difference in the life of someone who is not as lucky and fortunate as I have been.
Todd Ross (Rider, Bike Rally Co-chair)
This will be my eighth year on the Bike Rally. Looking for a challenge that supported an HIV/AIDS, I stumbled upon the Friends For Life Bike Rally. I love biking and the thought of a six day ride from Toronto to Montreal certainly matched my criteria for a challenge.
Since that first ride, I have not been able to stop – I keep coming back year after year for one of the best experiences of my life! I have met some of the most wonderful people who dedicate time, talent and effort in support of the Toronto People With AIDS Foundation (PWA) and I have seen first hand the incredible work that the staff and volunteers provide to people who are most in need. I love the Bike Rally and all the people involved and I love the compassion and hard work of PWA.
Mark Kuznicki (Rider, SpinTO Co-organizer)
This is my fourth year riding in the Bike Rally. I originally joined because I enjoyed cycling and was looking forward to the challenge of a distance ride. What I didn’t expect was that I would be utterly transformed by my experience in far more profound ways than my body mass index.
Until Bike Rally 2006, I was a gay man who had lived a life that was fairly isolated from the gay community. I had never known HIV/AIDS to touch my own life directly. I thought this made me lucky. Through the conversations I had and the relationships that I built on the Bike Rally, I came to learn more about the tragedy, the courage and the spirit of a community who had faced death and yet embraced life with immense strength and determination. I now know some amazing individuals who live with HIV/AIDS everyday, who inspire me and whom I love. I learned a lot about community from them and from the Bike Rally. I learned how much we all need community, the power of it and how much we all deserve to enjoy the fruits of it. I also learned that community isn’t free, it takes effort and it requires our continuous love and attention.
Now I ride because I know that we are not isolated. Each of us could be struck by a deadly disease at any time, and we would want to know that there was somewhere to turn. I ride because I want be part of and build a community that can also be there for me.
Adam Schwabe (Rider, SpinTO Co-organizer)
This is my first year riding with the Bike Rally and in fact my first year as a really active cyclist. Before this year the extent of my cycling experience was the casual rides around the block or along the trails. I’m riding because for many reasons – first and foremost, because it’s a way for me to directly support people living in and around my community directly impacted by HIV/AIDS.
Like most in my generation, I’ve never had to go through the experience of losing friends or family to HIV, but I know many that have done so. I’m also riding because it’s a great opportunity to spend time with some great friends and meet new ones. See you in Montreal!
Now that people have had a chance to recoup and empty their digital cameras, we’re seeing a ton of great photos and videos making their way into the SpinTO Flickr Group – add yours now if you haven’t already! Photo above by Rannie Turingan from the SpinTO Photobooth.
After taking the weekend to decompress after SpinTO’s amazing kick-off party on Friday, we’re very happy to announce our current fundraising progress – to date, SpinTO has raised about $15,000 for the Toronto People with AIDS Foundation! We’ll be posting a complete breakdown of funding sources and expenses soon.
We can’t tell you how happy we were when we witnessed the tremendous show of support on Friday night as you all has a great time for an even greater cause at the Mod Club. Thanks to our fantastic sponsors and all of you who bought tickets to the event, bought raffle tickets, bid for items, ordered Cause-Mo’s had your photo taken by Rannie Turingan or made a good ol’ cash donation. We’d also like to give MAJOR thanks to our volunteers who all contributed in some way to make SpinTO a reality – it really would not have been possible without them.
For those of you who won items in the raffle or were the highest bidders in the auction, expect to be contacted by us today if you haven’t been already with details on pick-up and payment. Thanks again, and keep an eye on this space for more updates!
Earlier tonight Mark and I livestreamed the raffle ticket drawing and invited people to watch live – here’s the results of the raffle! Apologies for the constant ratholes we go in throughout the video – we’re both a bit loopy after last night’s incredible event. We’ll update this post soon with the names and will be contacting the winners this week to let them know how they can collect their prizes. Congratulations to everyone who won, and thanks again to everyone who came out to make last night an amazing success!
Daily Challenge iTunes Gift Cards: Klemens and Krista
Cake or Death Custom Creation Certificate: Zunaid
Great Lakes Brewery Prize Pack Connie
Raleigh Coasting Bike: Sky
Specialized Globe Centrum: David
Great Lakes Brewery Devil’s Pale Ale Jerseys: Robb and Phil
Refresh Events iPhone App Development Workshop passes: Sarah and Phouphet
Harlequin Gift Bags: Francis, Ron, Kathryn, Dale, Corry, Sarah, Jane, Gabe, Richard, Harlequin, Marion H, Walter (re-draw later, given to Richard)
We’re very happy to announce another incredible item donated to SpinTO that will be up for the taking tomorrow night. Julianna Yau has donated this sculpture, Alabaster #16 to be auctioned off tomorrow night!
Alabaster #16 was completed in 2008 and is Julianna Yau’s second major piece in orange alabaster. Measuring 7″ tall, 10″ long and 4″ wide, the sculpture’s undulating forms are a tactile temptation while highlighting the natural beauty of the stone. #16 is part of her collection of sculptures which explore the interplay of light with the complex translucencies of alabaster.
Julianna has been sculpting since 2000, and has been an active member and advocate of the arts community in the recent years. Her work has always been free from any political, religious or other philosophical message, inviting the viewer to break free from preconceptions and enjoy the sculptures for its pure aesthetic and tactile experience.
She will be presenting at the Technology In The Arts conference in Stratford June 8th, and invites you to watch her complete a sculpture during the sp0tlight festival June 5th and 6th in Kitchener. Julianna is also found at social media and arts events in Toronto, supporting her home city while nurturing the budding arts and tech communities in KW.
Thanks again to Julianna for her wonderful contribution to SpinTO an the Toronto People with AIDS Foundation! Look for it tomorrow night at the Mod Club and get your bid in!
We have so many great items up for raffle at SpinTO, we’ve barely had time to get word out to you all about them! I think it’s time to take a second to recap:
- A $2500 voucher for custom engagement/bridal jewellery from Fair Trade Jewellery Company
- A Raleigh Coasting city bike from Raleigh Canada
- Beer for a year, two cycling jerseys, and a prize pack from Great Lakes Brewery
- Two passes (valued at $400) to Refresh Events’ iPhone Workshop
- A $500 gift certificate towards any custom cake from Cake or Death
There’s more to come, too, and this doesn’t even include our auction items! Now we’re lucky to have four professional models from Norwayne Anderson Model Management (NAM) Toronto who will help our lovely volunteers get these raffle tickets in your hands at the Mod Club this Friday.
We hope you’ll all give Peter, Roger, Anthony, and Nathan from NAM a very warm welcome at SpinTO and thank NAM for their generous sponsorship! Remember, you can’t win anything (or get a chance to meet the NAM boys!) unless you get a ticket – get yours now!
I’ve attended several of Refresh Events’ series of talks in the past couple months and have always walked away inspired and invigorated – that’s why I was so excited to hear that Refresh Events founder Justin Kozuch is offering up two passes to Refresh’s forthcoming iPhone application development workshop!
These two passes, valued at $400, will give you admission to the iPhone development workshop taking place on June 19th at the Ted Rogers School of Management at Ryerson University. This is a great opportunity to learn about what it takes to develop applications for the iPhone. We’ll be raffling these tickets off at SpinTO on May 15 – get your tickets now to have a chance to win them! Thanks again to Justin and Refresh Events for their donation to SpinTO.