Get Ready to Ride a Bike and Extend a Life

On Sunday, June 5, more than 13,000 dedicated cyclists will participate in the 24th Annual Becel Heart&Stroke Ride for Heart.

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Toronto – The Heart and Stroke Foundation is working to eliminate heart disease and stroke. How can it be done? One way is to offer cyclists a spectacular fundraising experience—biking along a traffic-free Gardiner Expressway and Don Valley Parkway in downtown Toronto. On Sunday, June 5, more than 13,000 dedicated cyclists will participate in the 24th Annual Becel Heart&Stroke Ride for Heart. The common goal? To raise $3.9 million for the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario.

The Becel Heart&Stroke Ride for Heart is one of Canada’s largest cycling fundraisers, and the money raised by participants will go to support leading-edge scientific research that will extend lives by improving existing treatments and developing new ones. Heart disease and stroke take 1 in 3 Canadians before their time. In Toronto and the GTA, the Foundation funds more than 130 researchers, and has invested more than $13 million in Toronto-based research for patients.

The heart and stroke foundation needs your help

To register, call 416-486-RIDE (7433) or visit The Ride sold out early last year – sign up today!

People who inspire us

Each person has his or her own reason for riding. For some, it’s to remember a loved one. For others it’s to celebrate a survivor, perhaps even themselves. Some see it as a personal challenge.

The RESEARCHERS are a group of men and women who are dedicated to heart and stroke research. Led by Dr.Marco Di Buono, Director of Philanthropy at The Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario, these 12 researchers from across Southern Ontario will ride in the Becel Heart&Stroke Ride for Heart. This year they include: Ali Al-Hashimi, Sonia Anand, Brian Berenbaum, Sydney Broer, Marco D’Amico, Beverly Korodetz, Michelle Leslie, Peter Liu, Paul Martin, Audrey Shecter, Dave Tobin and Leonard Wechsler. Their 2011 fundraising goal is $50,000.

The VIP FUNDRAISERS are local leaders and champions of the Becel Heart&Stroke Ride for Heart through their significant fundraising efforts and outstanding support in spreading the word about the Heart and Stroke Foundation’s work.

And then there are the SURVIVORS. These are heart disease or stroke survivors who will be riding on event day.

Spokesperson Sheryl Gill is one of the survivors. In 2007, when Sheryl was 38 years old, she collapsed during a 10-km run at a symposium in California. She had gone into cardiac arrest, the result of an undetected heart defect. “They thought they’d lost me,” says Sheryl, “but an AED [Automated External Defibrillator] restarted my heart.” Back in Toronto, she underwent an eight-hour open heart surgery, and today is working again. Sheryl is riding in the Becel Heart&Stroke Ride for Heart, and says, “Your participation helps people like me get another chance at life.”

The Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario, with partners, has placed more than 2,600 AEDs in communities across the province, and 30 lives have been saved as a result. Research shows that up to 85 percent of cardiac arrests occur at home or in public places. In Ontario alone, approximately 7,000 cardiac arrests occur every year. The survival rate of victims for an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest is less than five percent. However, the use of an AED with CPR before the arrival of Emergency Medical Services can increase the chance of survival by up to 75 percent.

Bailey Bernknopf is also a survivor. When she was five months old, her doctor discovered a heart murmur. As it turned out, Bailey’s heart had several congenital defects. She has had two surgeries on her heart since then, and now, at the age of 15, she dances six times a week, and has far more energy than she did as a child.

Four years ago, survivor Brian Campkin was diagnosed with three blocked arteries, and had to undergo a life-saving triple bypass surgery. Since that time, he has made a special effort to get fit, setting himself many successful fitness goals, including losing 20 pounds, changing his diet, and taking part in marathon walks and runs. 

Today, Brian’s health is better than ever. His positive attitude coupled with the valuable information he was provided by the Heart and Stroke Foundation, helped him, he says, “achieve such a miraculous recovery, and my dream goal to walk my daughter down the aisle at her wedding this November.”

Survivor Matthew Fleming was born in 1995 with a closed heart valve. He has had surgery three times since then on his heart, once to put in a shunt, and twice to insert new valves. On May 18, he will undergo a less invasive heart procedure, to put an implant into the current valve. This procedure can stave off open-heart surgery to replace his existing valve by as much as 20 years. Matt’s family is confident that the procedure will be successful, and Matt says he will be “fit and full of new-found energy for the RIDE on June 5.”

The ride is important

The Heart and Stroke Foundation’s Report on Canadians’ Health 2011 concludes that Canadians have a false sense of security that is cutting their lives short. We are overestimating our healthy behaviours and underestimating our tendency to be couch potatoes. Up to 80 percent of premature heart disease is preventable – yet we’re not managing some of the most common and deadly cardiovascular risk factors as well as we think.

Through your support, we are continuing to meet emerging challenges – such as childhood obesity, women’s risk and a rapidly aging population – head on. That’s why the 24th Annual Becel Heart&Stroke Ride for Heart is so important; it’s demonstrating the importance of physical activity, as well as raising essential funds for research.

For further information about the 24th Annual Becel Heart&Stroke Ride for Heart on Sunday, June 5, please contact:

Diane Hargrave and Maura Coristine


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