2012 Ride for Heart Part 1: Forming the Team

Ride for Heart took on a whole different level this year.  Being the Team Captain of a Corporate Team is a wild ride on its own.  Ride for Heart is an annual charity cycling event in Toronto on June 3, 2012, where the Don Valley Parkway & Gardiner Expressway (2 main highways!) are closed down for cyclists!!  All fundraising efforts go towards Heart & Stroke Foundation.  Riders can ride either the 25km, 50km, or 75km route.  I did 75km last year as an individual & had the best time!

I’ve never cycled in a team before, let alone forming a team within my company!  It has been a long journey & deserves a 2-part post: PART 1 revisits the 6 months leading up to the event; PART 2 talks about the actual ride.

CHRISTMAS 2011.  The idea of leading a team popped in my head.  I was thinking about cycling as usual to endure the winter blues.  1 of my coworkers participates in Ride for Heart every year but joins another team.  So I thought: “Why doesn’t my company have a Team??”  Not only would this give me an excuse to have “bike talks” at work & boost company morale, it’d develop my leadership & management skills.

I immediately connected myself to the ride coordinator, Michelle G.  I also requested approvals from my boss & CEO since funding was required to cover all the riders’ registration cost.  Through Michelle’s encouragement, I set my recruitment & fundraising goals higher than originally planned: 20 riders & raise $4,000.

White board behind my desk hasn’t been “work-related” for the past 6 months!

The crew at Ride for Heart Corporate Challenge, Michelle & Ayana (Intern), are amazing.  I initially had questions for them almost every week.  They always provided prompt responses & tools to support captains.

JAN 25, 2012.  Michelle made a personal visit to my office to drop off ride information & various knickknacks – posters, donation hearts, bracelets, progress thermometer.  She was quite amused when she saw my progress diagrams on the white board!

JAN 27, 2012.  I was invited to an exclusive networking breakfast for captains & VIPs at the prestigious Private Executive Suite (TD Tower) in Toronto.   I connected with Ayana, Megan (takes care of all the social media for the event), & several captains including Amy who is known to be full of FUNdraising ideas for her Team.  We enjoyed breakfast while listening to presentations by Matthew Fleming (heart disease survivor) & doctors who are using the funds for research.  I left the meeting feeling inspired & ready to get my team moving!

Kitchen bulletin -Hearts (riders/donors) bordering coworkers on bikes! Progress thermometer on the door.

I was more comfortable recruiting than fundraising.  I chatted about cycling to those willing to listen, put posters around the plants & office, wrote a segment in the company newsletter, decorated the kitchen bulletin board, & sent out mass emails.  I invited family, friends, coworkers, & even contractors to the team.  Next thing I knew, people started signing up along with their family & friends.  Fundraising, however, was my concern at the get-go.  I am awful at asking for money.  Touchy subject.  I didn’t want anyone to feel pressured to give me money.  All my charity rides last year were paid mostly, if not all, by myself.  I didn’t mind since they were for good causes & cycling overrides the associated expenses.  But $4000 is a team effort!  Time to get out of my comfort zone.  It was a slow start, but it eventually picked up when I found out my CFO is a board member of Heart & Stroke Foundation.  Not to mention the support from all my generous coworkers & friends.

MARCH 6, 2012.  My Team officially reached 100% of our recruitment goal & surpassed 50% of our fundraising goal.  All the pieces were falling together.

MAY 4, 2012.  Seanna R. (Associate Manager of RFH) & Sheryl Gill (heart disease survivor) came to my office for a Team Kick-off Event.  They motivated both riders & non-riders with Heart & Stroke’s missions & ride day information.  Sheryl inspired everyone with her real life experience & how our dollars make life-saving changes.

Resolving some technical issues. Lunch is served!
Kick-off Event
Sheryl (middle) & Seanna (right)

They even donated 2 gifts to us – perfect for a raffle draw to raise money for our Team!!  The raffles helped raise $129.  The 2 winners were a bit controversial to all since both their cubicles are near mine.  I swear no cheating was involved!!!  Congrats to Bill & Hasan! 😀

Raffle prizes – Blender & hydration pack
Bill – winner of hydration pack

I must mention Ride for Heart & their sponsor’s generosity.  I received complimentary tickets to the Bike Show back in March 2012, a private spin class at CYKL (my go-to spin studio! What are the odds?), & $25 Sporting Life gift card for everyone who registered before March 1st!

Ride day is tomorrow!  To date, we have surpassed both our riders & fundraising goals – 23 riders & $4,654.  This amount excludes some offline donations; the final $ will be much higher!! 😀 I’m happy with the results – very thankful to everyone who supported my Team.

Rain (& wind) is in tomorrow’s forecast.  Wet or dry, I’m ready to ride.  It’s always fun to see coworkers outside of work environment.  Go Team Enwave! 😀

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