The organizer: Keld Juulsgaard
The pitch: Helping launch the R2//NYC
The reason: To raise money for Campfire Circle
Keld Juulsgaard has been a cycling enthusiast for years and he used to participate in an annual fundraising ride in his native Denmark that involved biking from Copenhagen to Paris.
After he moved to Toronto, Mr. Juulsgaard joined a cycling club and a fellow rider, who was also from Denmark, suggested they replicate the Danish fundraiser in Canada. They decided on an 850-kilometre route from Toronto to New York and held the first R2//NYC over five days in 2018. Proceeds went to Campfire Circle, which offers outdoor programs for children affected by cancer and their families.
Nine riders participated and they raised $90,000. “We just had a blast,” recalled Mr. Juulsgaard, 53, who works in Toronto for the Danish ministry of foreign affairs. “It was probably just the perfect confluence of doing something we really liked with people we really like, and then you add in doing something good. And we can see its impact.”
They did the ride again in 2019 with 43 participants who raised around $400,000 in total. They had to curtail the event for two years because of the COVID-19 pandemic but it returned last September. Around 40 cyclists joined the ride and they raised more than $800,000.
Mr. Juulsgaard is hoping more people will take part this year but he also wants to keep the ride small enough so that everyone gets to know each other. And he’s encouraging riders to volunteer at the camp.
“We all love riding bicycles, we all like to do well. We do charitable things. But once you enter as a camp counsellor with a cabin full of kids fighting cancer 365 days a year when they’re not in camp, it is truly something else,” he said. “When you get a reminder like that, you understand how lucky you are.”