The mission of the Air Canada Vacations 401 Bike Challenge is to help improve the care and treatment of children battling cancer, as well as to support their families and the dedicated people who care for them at the Toronto SickKids and the Montreal Children’s Hospital.
In 2005, Gene Piccoli, Investment Advisor and Vice President at CIBC Wood Gundy, decided he wanted to give back to the community. Inspired by his wife Angie’s successful battle with cancer prior to having their children, and his passion for cycling, he dreamt of organizing a charity cycling event between two of Canada's major cities; Toronto and Montreal. So drawing from Angie’s inspiration, Gene created the 401 Bike Challenge and aligned it with the Cedars Cancer Foundation at the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) in support of Sarah’s Floor, the pediatric oncology floor.
Gene formed the first peloton with his son James by his side and a small group of friends. His daughter Lauren and wife Angie prepared and provided all the necessary support for the riders along the way. In its inaugural year, the 401 Bike Challenge raised $17,000. Since then, the event has continued to grow each year in terms of dollars raised, numbers of riders, awareness, and its commitment to pediatric oncology.
In its early years, under the title sponsorship of CIBC, senior management within CIBC joined the Piccoli family as they made their annual 580km journey from Toronto to Montreal in support of the Montreal Children’s Hospital.
In 2009, inspired by the increased generosity of its corporate sponsors and the many donors along the 401 corridor, the 401 Bike Challenge and Cedars proudly announced that a portion of the donations would be allocated to the Toronto SickKids pediatric hematology/oncology department.
In 2019, Air Canada Vacations proudly became the title sponsor of the 401 Bike Challenge, becoming the Air Canada Vacations 401 Bike Challenge.
For the past fourteen years, the 401 Bike Challenge has been a remarkable grass roots success raising over $2 million to date. Together, with the support of the brave riders, donors and corporate partners, we are making a difference in the lives of children with cancer and the people who care for them.