Fueling hungry riders during an epic two-wheeled journey
Volunteers, pedal pushers combine for a great 2016 Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer season
Adam Greenspoon doesn’t have a background in the restaurant industry.
But after five years of volunteering with the annual Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer, he’s well versed in hospitality.
Since 2012, Greenspoon has volunteered for the ERTCC, the largest cycling fundraiser in Canadian history, by organizing the weekend lunch stops for more than 4,000 riders making an epic 200-kilometer journey across southern Ontario.
Every year, Greenspoon and his 120-plus Enbridge volunteers get hungry riders fueled up and back out on the road, with plenty of support and words of encouragement.
“You take a volunteer group out, usually to an empty farmer’s field, early in the morning, and you transform it into a restaurant to serve lunch to almost 5,000 customers in one day,” says Greenspoon, a Toronto-based program manager with Enbridge Gas Distribution and Power. “Then you tear it all down, and leave it as you found it.”
For this ERTCC volunteer group, the lunch-stop volunteer commitment entails much more than meets the eye.
With support from event production company CauseForce, lunch-stop volunteers are involved in menu selection; site planning; on-site deliveries of food, ice and water; rider entry and exit logistics; and ongoing trash pickup.
“It’s intense and it’s gratifying,” says Greenspoon.
Thanks to a great number of dedicated volunteers, the ERTCC season—a massive undertaking—once again went off without a hitch in 2016. This year, more than 8,500 cyclists raised $35.15 million across Canada, propelling The Ride well past $300 million in total fundraising for cancer research, treatment and care since its establishment in 2008.
Enbridge is the national title sponsor for the Quebec, Ontario and Alberta legs of The Ride. This year’s events included:
- The Ontario Ride, on June 11 and 12, with 4,253 riders raising $17.3 million for the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre;
- The Quebec Ride, on July 9 and 10, with 1,222 riders raising $4.4 million for the Jewish General Hospital’s Segal Cancer Centre; and
- The Alberta Ride, on Aug. 6 and 7, with 1,402 riders raising $6.35 million for the Alberta Cancer Foundation.
During this year’s Ontario Ride, the Enbridge Gas volunteer crew set up shop along the Classic Plus route, feeding riders west of Toronto on Day 1, and teaming up with Accenture partners in the Niagara region on Day 2.
“It’s a colossal cause, and I believe we’re getting closer all the time to a cure. We get to interact with the riders and hear their stories. It’s fascinating, and it’s gut-wrenching, when you understand what a lot of these people have gone through,” says Greenspoon.
At some point in the next five years, says Greenspoon, he’ll get up on a bike and pedal those 200 kilometers. Serving lunch may be tough, he says, but the real test and hard work happens up in the saddle of a bike.
In the meantime . . .
“Everything I put in as a volunteer, I get back in spades,” he says. “That first year I volunteered, I came home exhausted physically and emotionally, and I said: ‘I’ve got to keep doing this.’ ”