Ride for Heart

Posted on April 20, 2021

Do you like to bike?

Biking is a great activity and sport for people of all ages. Most of us learned to ride a bicycle as a child, and it's a skill that sticks with us for our entire lives. We're able to hop back on and start riding no matter how long we've been away from it.  

There are many positive things about riding a bicycle. It's great exercise, it is a sustainable method of transportation, and it gives us the opportunity to get outdoors. You can bike alone or with friends, and you can ride a bike almost anywhere that there are roads or trails.

Another great thing you can do while riding a bike is to raise money for charity. There are a number of different charity fundraisers that encourage people to get on a bicycle to raise money for great causes. One of the biggest and most well-known of these in Canada is the annual Ride for Heart in Toronto.

However, due to the pandemic, this year's ride will be virtual for the second year in a row. Read on to learn how you can get involved with this event to raise money for this cause.

Why is Ride For Heart So Important?

The Ride for Heart is a well-known event throughout Canada, and especially in Toronto where it takes place. This yearly charity fundraiser began back in 1987 and attracts over ten thousand riders each year. Previously sponsored by Becel Margarine, it has been sponsored by Manulife Financial Corporation since 2018.

How Much Money Does Ride for Heart Raise?

Annually, the event raises millions of dollars for the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada - an organisation now known as Heart & Stroke. In recent years, Ride for Heart - a single event - raises over $5 million annually for this important non-profit. 

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The money raised during Ride for Heart goes to help support research efforts by doctors and scientists who study the causes and impact of heart disease and stroke. It also helps to expand CPR and AED education nationwide and supports advocacy for healthier governmental regulations and policies. Together, these studies and programs save countless lives each year and help to keep Canadians healthier throughout their lives.

Why Is Such This an Important Cause?

This is a cause that touches almost every Canadian. Nine out of ten Canadians have at least one risk factor for heart disease or stroke and an estimated 1.6 million Canadians already have heart disease or are living with the after-effects of a stroke. One in three Canadians will eventually die from one of these conditions. 

Because of the prevalence of these conditions and the fact that almost everyone is at risk, raising money for this cause is important for all. The Ride for Heart brings Canada together. In addition to the thousands of event participants, thousands more come out to watch.

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Part of the reason for that is the fact that the event is strikingly beautiful. Two major, six-lane highways are closed to motor vehicle traffic on the morning of the first Sunday of June. Participants get the opportunity to ride through the city on the Don Valley Parkway (DVP) and the Gardiner Expressway; riding there would be impossible on any other day.  The Toronto skyline is arguably one of of the most gorgeous in the world as it blends modern architecture with restored historic buildings; and all along the waterfront.  It's a sight to never be forgotten.

Riders can opt for one of several different route length options. However, no matter which one they choose, the route is a loop. As a result, everyone's ride begins and ends with a gorgeous view of Lake Ontario. It's no wonder so many people come out to participate and watch.

Who Are The Heart and Stroke Foundation?

The Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada was founded in 1952; after a rebrand in 2016, it is now simply known as Heart & Stroke. It is headquarters are in Ottawa, Ontario.

heart n stroke about image

This organisation focuses on improving the heart health of Canadians nationwide, and on reducing risk factors for both heart disease and stroke. In order to accomplish these goals, the organisation raises money for research, advocacy, and education on these topics.

What Is Their Strategy?

Reducing heart disease and stroke across an entire nation is a huge goal. However, it's an important one; informing the public about ways to reduce their risk and supporting research on further solutions is crucial. After all, these conditions are the number one cause of premature death in the nation.

In order to meet this goal, Heart & Stroke have a vision and a mission. The organisation's vision is "Life. Uninterrupted by heart disease and stroke" and its mission is "Promote health. Save lives. Enhance recovery." These are simple statements, but when examined closely, they are concepts and goals that are quite vast.

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The people of Heart & Stroke realize this. They know that the task at hand is gigantic. Therefore, their strategy is twofold. The organisation aims to "improve the health of people in Canada by decreasing risk factors for heart disease and stroke." It also wishes to "reduce the death rate from heart disease, stroke, and vascular cognitive impairment of people in Canada."

The group is always working towards those goals.

The Six Areas of Focus

To achieve their goals, Heart & Stroke has delineated six areas of focus. Equal focus upon each of these areas is crucial to reaching their objectives. 

Curiosity and Teamwork

Heart & Stroke partners with many different institutions, researchers, and partners to learn more about the causes of these health issues. It hopes to bring together the best heart and stroke researchers in the nation. To foster this, it offers Grants-in-Aid and personnel awards to people working in this realm.

Equity Matters

The organisation recognizes that not everyone in Canada has equal access to healthcare and that some groups are more vulnerable to poor health. Heart & Stroke hopes to promote education and research on heart health and stroke for people of all ages, races, and genders.

Raising Voices for Change

Heart & Stroke hopes to spread the word about this cause, what has been learned, and how those lessons can be applied to people across Canada through and encourages people to be self-advocates. Furthermore, they push for more legislative, regulatory, and policy measures at the federal and provincial levels to inspire and encourage healthy changes nationwide.

You Matter Most

In order to be most effective and to reach the largest number of people, Heart & Stroke needs people who have lived and experienced heart disease and stroke to participate in this organisation. They aim to keep their brand accessible to all so that people will engage with it in meaningful ways.

Reach Higher, Smarter

Fundraising is the cornerstone of this organisation. Another of Heart & Strokes Areas of Focus is to inspire robust giving from individual and corporate donors and partners and to earn money for the cause through social enterprise ventures.


The best, most effective, and most trusted non-profits are transparent to their participants, donors, and employees. Heart & Stroke knows that for maximum efficacy, the organisation must always present the absolute truth. 

How Does Heart & Stroke Help People?

With transparency in mind, Heart & Stroke is open about the organisation's spending on its website. 55.3% of every dollar donated goes to their mission. 40.5% of it goes to fundraising, and a mere 4.2% goes to administration.

In other words, 55.3 cents of every dollar donated directly supports the mission. To break this down even further, 21.3 cents goes to research and the other 34 cents goes to advocacy and education. In 2020, the group was able to give $21.8 million to the former and $34.6 million to the latter.

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Anyone who donates money to or raises money for Heart & Stroke can rest easy that their dollars are going to help other Canadians now and in the long term.

This organisation has done so much to save lives, fight for prevention, and to transform recovery over the past nearly seventy years, and it will continue to make great strides in these areas onward into the future. 

The Traditional Ride for Heart

Over the vast majority of the years since Ride for Heart began in 1987, this event has taken place on the first Sunday in June in Toronto. Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the event has had to transition to a virtual format the past two years. Organisers hope that the event will be able to return to its traditional format in June of 2022.

During the usual event, participants can choose from a number of different distances to ride. This is wonderful because it gives anyone who wishes to participate the opportunity to do so regardless of his or her athletic ability. All routes are outbound on the Don Valley Parkway and, after a turnaround, are inbound back to the starting point on the Gardiner Expressway.

The 25 km cycle route turns around at Bayview Avenue. Both the 50 km cycle route and the 75 km cycle route turn around at York Mills Road, but 75 km riders get their extra distance by passing the finish line and then looping back at South Kingsway.

Although the event is known as Ride for Heart, walkers and runners can participate as well. A 5 km and sometimes a 10 km walking and running course is also included.

This Year's Virtual Event

Although so many Ontarians and Canadians and general would love to be headed to Toronto for Ride for Heart this year, it's not safe to do so yet because of the pandemic. Therefore, this year's event will be a virtual one for the second year in a row.

This is likely disappointing for many, but there are some positives to this situation as well. More people will have the opportunity to participate than ever before; people across Canada can be a part of this charity fundraiser without even having to leave their hometowns. Heart & Stroke needs charitable donations to continue doing the work they do, so they're counting on all of Canada to dive in and be a part of this year's ride.

How to Participate

Just like with the traditional event, people who wish to participate can ride, walk, or run, so if you don't own a bike, you can choose one of the other two options. If you participate in another individual or team sport, you are welcome to do that instead too. Further, interested individuals can participate on their own, with a team, or with their colleagues on a corporate team. This event is even open to children; anyone across Canada can participate.

People who wish to participate will need to pay a registration fee when they register of $20 ($30 after May 1); corporate teams pay $50 per team member. All participants are encouraged to raise an additional $100 or more beyond that fee. All participants will receive a participant event kit, but people who raise $100 or $1000 will also receive additional perks.

 If riding, walking, running, or another physical activity doesn't interest you, you can still be a part of Ride for Heart by making a donation. If you own a business, there are also sponsorship opportunities available as well. 

Tracking Your Progress

You can track your progress using the Ride for Heart app. This app integrates with other common fitness apps, or you can manually enter your activity yourself. Heart & Stroke says that even when the event returns to its traditional format in Toronto, they'll still offer the virtual format as an option so people all across Canada can participate wherever they may be.

It doesn't matter what you do, when you do it, or where you do it - the most important thing is that you get excited about exercise and that you help raise some money for Heart & Stroke to continue their great work.

Ride for Heart and Be a Part of Something Great

Heart & Stroke's Ride for Heart is an important event that raises so much money for a great cause each and every year.

If you haven't been a part of this fundraiser in the past, this year is the perfect year to get started. Since this year's virtual format allows anyone to participate from the comfort of his or her home, there's nothing stopping you.

Register today, and get your friends and family involved, too. Together we can work to reduce the impact of heart disease and stroke in Canada and beyond. 

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