RBC Ride for the Kids made a magnificent contribution to SportsAid Week 2020 with 74 cyclists managing to raise over £27,000 so far while collectively wracking up more than 5,700 miles towards this year’s #MyMiles Challenge!
Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) is generously matching all funds raised by participants before 10 October which will see this fundraising figure double. The team had the choice of completing one of three distances - 57 miles, 77 miles or 100 miles - on a day of their choice between 25 and 27 September. This year’s Ride was initially set to take place from London to Lille in June but was inevitably abandoned due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The team at RBC, which has been a leading partner of SportsAid since 2014, refused to be beaten and swiftly organised a one-day UK ride to start and finish at Bisham Abbey in September with an eye-catching route through the beautiful Chilterns. Unfortunately, due to recent Government announcements, these plans also had to be rethought and a decision was made to go virtual with cyclists able to develop their own routes locally and meet up in groups with a maximum of six people.
This saw the team, which included Olympic heroes Amy Williams, Mark Hunter, Sarah Winckless and Steve Backley, alongside Paralympic superstars Naomi Riches and Danny Crates, riding in various locations across the south of England such as Kent, Surrey, Buckinghamshire, Sussex and Somerset. Fellow SportsAid ambassador Ama Agbeze, captain of England’s gold medal winning netball team at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games, also rode from Auckland to Cambridge….in New Zealand!
“The cancellation and postponement of the majority of challenge events this year has had a significant impact on charity income,” said Dave Thomas, CEO, RBC Europe. “It was important for Royal Bank of Canada to find a way to hold our annual RBC Ride for the Kids event so that we could continue to support SportsAid during such a challenging time. While we could only ride in teams of six, to ensure we remained COVID-safe, the build-up, fundraising and participation has been a great opportunity for colleagues to re-connect in a really positive and meaningful way.
“Despite the move from an in-person event to a virtual one, including the absence of any support crew on the day, all 74 riders completed their target distance and continued to go above and beyond with their fundraising for SportsAid. The fantastic support of our Riders this year really shows their commitment to helping their communities. I am very proud of the whole team in making the 2020 RBC Ride for the Kids a real success!”
This was the third consecutive year that SportsAid had been selected as the chosen charity for RBC Ride for the Kids. The first ride in 2018 saw a team of 47, all of mixed abilities, complete a two-day cycle of 184 miles from London to Bruges. The following year ran with a bolstered team of 57, including 40 employees new to the event, taking on the 205 mile journey to Brussels. Over 25,000 miles have now been covered across the three rides to show their support for the next generation.
Over the last seven years, RBC has generated more than £700,000 for SportsAid through corporate donations and staff fundraising. On an annual basis, RBC provides financial support, ongoing mentoring and personal development opportunities to 50 talented young athletes through the charity. The partnership sees the athletes, who stretch across 31 sporting disciplines this year, receive an annual award of £1,000 to contribute towards costs such as travel, accommodation and equipment.
RBC has enjoyed a number of success stories since the partnership began including double Paralympic champion Georgie Hermitage, sprinter Reuben Arthur, who won gold at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, and England international footballer Lauren Hemp. The money raised through the Ride is specifically used to run workshops for athletes and parents so they can receive expert advice on areas such as performance lifestyle management, the media and nutrition. Last year’s funds has enabled SportsAid to develop an online programme of workshop sessions for athletes during lockdown.
“Over the years of our vibrant and ground-breaking partnership with RBC, together we have really made a difference,” said Tim Lawler - SportsAid’s Chief Executive. “There have been many highlights to feel proud of, such as the development of the buddy scheme, raising the profile of SportsAid’s One-to-Watch Award to a whole new level, and the establishment of a newly dedicated fund to offer workshop places to more athletes and parents around the country. The way that RBC has responded as a partner to the multiple challenges of the COVID-19 crisis facing SportsAid has been incredible.
“This is perhaps best illustrated through the recent Ride for the Kids sportive. The 2020 edition was in real jeopardy but RBC would not give up on it. They managed a date change and the move to a virtual version, as well as agreeing to match the funds raised by the riders who completed their chosen distances. And despite the truly awful weather conditions, some 74 riders rose to the challenge and got out on their bikes for SportsAid. In my experience, that shows a very special partnership. Thank you to everyone at RBC for standing shoulder to shoulder with us.”