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Cyclists to ride from Toronto to Montreal to raise funds for Barrie cancer centre

This year's fourth annual Equipe '78 bike ride will raise funds for new technology at the Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre's Simcoe Muskoka Regional Cancer Centre. Nick Westoll / File / Global News

A group of cyclists will ride from Toronto to Montreal in two days near the end of August to raise funds for the Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre’s cancer facility in Barrie.

The group is comprised of experienced cyclists, and each year for the last few years, they’ve done a charity ride, dubbed Equipe ’78.

This year’s fourth annual Equipe ’78 will raise funds for new technology at the RVH’s Simcoe Muskoka Regional Cancer Centre.

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This year’s ride is inspired by three-time cancer survivor Jackie Herbst’s husband, Mark Herbst, and his cycling partner, Paul Millar, who participated in the Race Across America in June, also raising funds for RVH’s cancer services in honour of Jackie.

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“We had heard about the stories of having to drive from Barrie to Toronto for cancer treatment and how invasive that commute is,” Anthony Monastero, the co-founder and a main organizer of Equipe ’78, told Global News.

“Number one, it’s a long drive. Number two, there’s a cost associated with it, there’s stress.”

When Jackie told the group about the RVH’s cancer centre, they decided to contribute to help it grow, Monastero said.

“Advancing cancer services at RVH ensure[s] residents of North Simcoe Muskoka can get the care they need, closer to home,” Eric Dean, CEO of the RVH Foundation, said in a statement.

“Not only does this alleviate the stress and burden of lengthy travel, it means they can be closer to their family, friends and support system.

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So far, Monastero said there are eight registered riders that have raised close to $11,000 or $12,000 for this year’s Equipe ’78.

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“We usually try and get 20 riders,” Monastero said. “We don’t want to go with a group much bigger than 20 because it’s just not safe.”

Previously, Monastero said, the group has cycled for the Kensington Health Foundation and other local benefactors. “In the past, we’ve raised in excess of $45,000 with less than 20 riders,” he added.

“We’re not professionals — we’re every day, ordinary people,” Monastero said. “We have thousands and thousands of annual kilometres under our belts. We don’t have off seasons.”

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The ride will be sponsored by Racer Sportif, Monacom Productions, Memnon and Mattamy Homes.

It will begin at the Ajax Go Station next Friday, departing at 9 a.m., riding along the St. Lawrence River to Montreal.

All of the funds that are donated to the charity ride will go toward RVH’s cancer centre, according to Monastero.

“When you start comparing what professional riders do on a daily basis, this particular ride is right up there,” Monastero said. “Our efforts, our time and our contributions are really, first and foremost, to help out and give back to the community.

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