The mission of the Air Canada Vacations 401 Bike Challenge is to help improve the care and treatment of children battling cancer, and support their families, as well as the dedicated people who care for them at the Montreal Children’s Hospital and the Toronto SickKids 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, the 401 Bike Challenge went from dream to reality. Organizing a cycling event between Canada's two major cities was always something Gene dreamt of, so drawing from Angie’s inspiration, he decided to launch his own initiative for children’s cancer. Gene quickly aligned the 401 Bike Challenge with the Cedars Cancer Foundation at the 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 enjoyment, 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.
Inspired by the increased generosity of its corporate sponsors and the many donors along the 401 corridor, the 401 Bike Challenge and Cedars proudly decided in 2009 to allocate a portion of the donations to the Toronto Sick Kids Hospital pediatric hematology/oncology department.
For the past fourteen years, what was earlier known as the CIBC 401 Bike Challenge, and now proudly flies the flag of Air Canada Vacations as the ACV 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.