Pedalling for Strong Communities

By Ron Fanfair, Toronto Police Service Published: 10:49 a.m. September 12, 2017

It was a quick start to the Toronto Police Service fundraising campaign for the United Way Toronto & York Region as thousands were raised through a stationary bike race.

A group of women cheering on a  woman on a bike
The Hotshots team, made up of Communications Operators, won the best dressed category

Chief Mark Saunders was the lead rider for Saunders Responders.

“United Way develops stronger communities,” he said. “When you have stronger communities, you have healthier communities. When you have that, quality of life is something that is there. We have so many neighbourhoods and communities that need our help. That’s why the uniformed and sworn members joined the Service. We try every day to make a positive difference in the lives of the people we come in contact with. But we can’t do it alone. It’s fantastic organizations like the United Way that we want to thank for what they do. This year I hope we do much better contributing because there are more challenges that are out there and we know when we help from one angle, it reduces from the other angle. Rather than us being reactive, we have an opportunity to be proactive when it comes to community safety.”

A woman on a bicycle surrounding by cheering women
Chief Mark Saunders led the charge as one of the first riders
United Way Campaign Kick-Off & Stationary Bike Race

Constable Melanie Lantaigne of 53 Division MidTown Magic has been training for triathlons in the last two years.

While running, cycling and swimming make this one of the most demanding athletic events, she said the 19th annual Toronto Police Service stationary bike race on September 11 proved a great challenge.

"This was really hard and extremely challenging after the first five minutes. I was very tired at the end.”

Despite the rigorous effort, she was the top female rider pedalling 7.56 kilometres in her allotted 10 minutes.

Henry was the top male cyclist, doing 10.5 kilometres.

“I enjoy doing this and it’s for a great cause,” he said.

Henry deferred the first prize to Staff Sergeant Justin Vander Heyden of Community Safety Command who pedalled 9.89 kilometres.

MidTown Magic also won the team award, pedalling 53.23 kilometres and the prize for raising the most money.

Communications Hot Shots was voted the team with the Best Costume and Saunders Responders for Best Team Name.

A group of people on stairs holding trophies
Midtown Magic, of 53 Division, won as the top fundraisers and top cyclists pedalling over 53 km in an hour

Toronto Police Association president Mike McCormack and director of civilian field services Ed Costa presented a cheque to United Way to support the bike fundraiser.

“As members of the Toronto Police Service, we have all seen first-hand the value that United Way brings to the City of Toronto, making this a better city,” McCormack said. “United Way wouldn’t exist without the people that are in front of me. You, as members of the Service each and every year generously give from the heart and we do make a difference.”

United Way Toronto president and chief executive officer Daniele Zanotti said the Service’s annual campaign is more than where they give.

“It’s a sign of you and your love for this city and the neighbourhoods that we all call home,” he said. “What makes this city great is that every day, men and women from your police force and association are sitting with us in neighbourhoods, with Native Child and Family Services, Big Brothers & Big Sisters. You name it, you are there on our city’s biggest issues and for that, we are a better city.”

People on bicycles surrounding by people standing
A sea of riders filled the headquarters courtyard and raised thousands for United Way Toronto & York Region

For being among the top 50 per cent of campaigns across the city, Zanotti made a special presentation to the Service on behalf of United Way.

Acting Superintendent Reuben Stroble, the fundraising campaign chair, thanked the 12 teams for participating in the bike race.

“This is a testament to teamwork and people pulling together for a cause,” he said. “When you look at the Toronto Police Service and its intersectionality between what we do and what United Way provides, I don’t think there is any other organization out there that works with social agencies like we do to try to make a better place for people to work and grow in our city. It’s the United Way and the money they provide that helps us help the community. When we looked at this year’s campaign, we looked at the community and how do we make better neighbourhoods. For this year, we linked with the Jane & Finch Boys and Girls Club.”

A woman at a TPS podium
Rise Antoine, talks about the difference the United Way makes for her organization, the Jane and Finch Boys and Girls Club
A group of people around a bike dressed any Super Mario characters
Court Officers dressed for success before pedalling anywhere
TPS crest watermark