Riding the Big Bike for Heart

By Miriam King, Bradford Times

All during May and June, the Heart & Stroke Foundation's Big Bike has been rolling through Canadian towns and cities, raising funds for educational programs and vital research – and raising awareness of Heart and Stroke as the Big Bike makes its way through traffic.

It's the only bicycle built for 29, plus a “driver” who steers the huge vehicle, and handles the braking. Teams do their best to fill every seat , and hit a fundraising target.

Only four teams signed up for the Bradford ride this year, a disappointment for local co-ordinator Julia Holt. But the teams that participated on June 17 hit the mark with their fundraising efforts, and their spirit.

The Town of Bradford West Gwillimbury fielded the largest team, captained by Chief Administrative Officer Geoff McKnight. With representatives from every Town department – including Chief Building Official Jack Tosta, Treasurer Ian Goodfellow, and BWG Mayor Rob Keffer - they were also the biggest fundraisers, collecting $3,280 for Heart & Stroke.

St. Louis Bar & Grill's team dressed up in feather boas, carrying tinsel, horns and noisemakers on their ride, and raised $1,260.

And the combined team of Zehrs Market and Inscape Inc. may have been the smallest in number, but they were the loudest, as driver “Chiko” Lee steered the Big Bike through Bradford traffic on Holland St. West. The Zehrs team raised $700, and donated the proceeds of a fundraising BBQ, held outside the store – as well as providing breakfast, hot dogs, sausages, and refreshments for all of participants.

Aside from the fun, team-building games, and light-hearted competition, there was a serious message. Heart and Stroke are now the number 1 cause of death for both men and women in Canada, Holt noted – and women are 7 times more likely to die of heart disease or stroke than breast cancer.

The Heart & Stroke Foundation uses only 3.2% of the funds it collects for Administration purposes; all the rest goes into research, education, and support – promoting awareness of the causes of heart disease and stroke, the symptoms, and the actions and lifestyle changes that can save lives.

Holt thanked the teams, and sponsors that included the Dairy Farmers of Canada, Zehrs Market, Coffee Culture Cafe & Eatery, and AGC Automotive – which couldn't ride, but donated $500. The Heart & Stroke Foundation of York North Big Bike ride is still accepting donations; see - or contact Holt, at to get involved next year.

Bradford Valley Care Community, a long-term care residence on Line 6 BWG, also participated in the Big Bike ride – but in Barrie, riding at Georgian Downs race track in Innisfil on June 16. The Bradford Valley team dressed up for the occasion, in housecoats and curlers, and raised $1,800 for Heart and Stroke.