Drivers passing through the south end of Elmira last week may have taken in an unfamiliar sight: a giant red bike.
The bicycle and teams of riders were in Elmira May 31 for the annual Heart and Stroke Foundation fundraiser to raise awareness and to support critical heart disease and stroke research.
Six teams – Elmira Foodland, Chartwell Elmira, Barnswallow Place, Canadian Tire Elmira, Home Hardware Elmira, and Home Hardware Stores Ltd. – collectively raised more than $11,000 through the Ride for Heart Big Bike event.
“It was a very successful day all of the teams were very energetic,” said Cheryl Forsyth, senior area manager for the Waterloo Region Heart and Stroke Foundation.
Between 20-29 individuals from each team took their turn pushing off from the Elmira Foodland parking lot on a loop of just over two kilometres.
Joined on their route by honking vehicles, the goal was to draw attention via the unconventional Clifford-like red bicycle and show their support.
“That is what we are looking to do: raise awareness for the cause,” she said. “So we want to make sure that we have a spot where people can see, a lot of cars will honk as they go by if they see you down the street.”
Forsyth said they were appreciative of Elmira Foodland for offering to be home base for the event.
“This year Foodland graciously offered to host for us, they provided the location for free and also snacks and beverages for everyone who came off of the bike,” she said.
The team, who was participating for the second year after receiving a great turnout at the last annual event, was made up of employees past and present.
Tyson Pagett, one of the bikers for the Foodland team, said he was riding for those and their families effected by heart disease.
“I know a lot of people in my family have had strokes, and there are a lot of other people not in the family who I know are affected by it, so I think it is important to raise awareness about it,” said Pagett.
There are currently 1.6 million Canadians living with heart disease and stroke, the foundation directly supports 850 researchers and has seen a 75 per cent decline in heart disease and stroke death rate over the past six decades.
Donations raised from the Big Bike event funds critical research to help save lives and develop treatments.
“It is a really fun event, the teams love it they get really excited they know they are raising money for a good cause and the money from Heart and Stroke goes towards our mission and our research portion of it,” said Forsyth. “Every seven-minutes somebody in Canada dies from a heart attack or stroke – we are working really hard to change that stat.”