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Builder bikes to build support for local hospitals Add to ...

The Gift: Raising $3-million and climbing

The Cause: Ontario regional hospitals

About 10 years ago Peter Gilgan and some colleagues decided to give up on golf and become cyclists.

“We like to think of cycling as the new golf,” said Mr. Gilgan, chief executive of Oakville, Ont.,-based Mattamy Homes Ltd., Canada’s largest home builder. “The rides we do, I often say, are equivalent to nine holes or 18 holes.”

In 2005, the riders dedicated their biking passion to raising money for charity. They started organizing an annual ride to generate donations for Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children. The event was small and a couple of years ago Mr. Gilgan decided to shift the focus to regional hospitals.

“The regional hospitals and community hospitals don’t get the same sort of fundraising attention,” he explained. “This is more than just a contribution. It’s also about raising awareness of the needs of hospitals in the local communities and to try to encourage people to support their local hospitals.”

Now each summer Mr. Gilgan and his friends select a regional hospital and organize a fundraising ride from Muskoka, north of Toronto, to that hospital’s community.

This year, for example, about 50 riders – including cycling greats George Hincapie and Steve Bauer – travelled nearly 200 kilometres to Markham, and raised nearly $500,000 for the Markham Stouffville Hospital. Mr. Gilgan kicked in another $500,000 personally. Another year, the ride went to Mississauga, and raised $1.5-million for the Trillium Health Centre.

Over the past few years, the ride has raised about $3-million in total for several hospitals and Mr. Gilgan is already thinking about next year’s recipient.

“The service [the hospitals] provide in the community and the dedication of the folks who are there need to be recognized,” he said. “If we can help out and leverage the fun we are having riding bikes, it’s a win-win for everybody.”


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