Riding for a cause: Hundreds biking to Montreal to raise money for HIV/AIDS

Cyclists are riding from Toronto to Montreal to raise money for the Toronto People With AIDS Foundation, and help fight the stigma faced by those living with HIV/AIDS.

6-day ride for Toronto People With AIDS Foundation began Sunday at Toronto's Allan Gardens

Friends for Life Bike Rally participants and supporters listen to opening remarks Sunday morning at Toronto's Allan Gardens where the ride began. (CBC)

While many Torontonians were having a sleepy Sunday morning, about 260 were geared up and ready to go. At 9 a.m., they left Allan Gardens to the sounds of bells and cheering, embarking on a six-day bicycle ride to raise money for the Toronto People With AIDS Foundation (PWA).

"I initially heard about the ride through an ex-lover who is impacted with the stigma of HIV/AIDS," explained Simon Lysnes. "And to see what he was doing — riding all the way to Montreal, 600 kilometres — was really inspiring. So the next year I signed up, and I've been doing it ever since. This will be my ninth ride."

Todd Davies, co-chair of the Friends for Life Bike Rally, told CBC News that the event has raised more than $14 million for PWA in its 18 years. Founded in 1987, PWA provides social and practical services for community members living with HIV/AIDS.
Simon Lysnes, who is participating in his ninth ride this year, says he was inspired to take part in the event by an ex-lover who dealt with the stigma of HIV/AIDS. (CBC)