Submitted by Darlene Carpenter,Rotary Club of Guelph Trillium
When COVID-19 hit in the spring of 2020, the organizers of Tour de Guelph had a decision to make.   Should we cancel the event and wait for the pandemic to be over, or find a new way of holding it. Tour de Guelph is a joint community fundraising cycling event organized by the Rotary Clubs of Guelph South and Guelph Trillium, along with the Foundation of the Guelph General Hospital.  The joint organizing committee decided to hold a “virtual” Tour de Guelph 2020, encouraging community members to register, solicit sponsors, and ride physically distanced on a route of their choice any time during a four-week period.
The community support for a virtual ride went beyond our expectations, and the end result was $105,000 raised for the Hospital Foundation, as well as community organizations and international projects supported by the two Rotary Clubs.
The decision heading into 2021 was much easier.  We knew we had to hold the event virtually again.  The community support was again way beyond our expectations.  We set a fundraising goal of $110,000, and in the end, raised $165,000.  2021 is the most successful Tour de Guelph yet. There were 366 registered riders, runners and walkers, and over 1,800 people who sponsored these individual riders and walkers.  Numerous local businesses also dug deep to sponsor this year’s event or contribute in-kind service and product.  Our title sponsor is a Rotarian-owned business, Label Design.  New this year we held a silent auction during Tour de Guelph.  The auction was a significant contributor to the fundraising total and gave non-cyclist a chance to participate.
The largest share of Tour de Guelph raised funds are allocated to the Hospital Foundation. Guelph General Hospital’s share of the proceeds this year will help fund a new MRI scanner.  The Hospital conducts up to 15,000 MRI scans a year to diagnose and monitor injuries and illnesses, and its current MRI scanner is 14 years old and urgently needs to be replaced. 
As well as being part of raising much-needed funds for patient care equipment at Guelph General, the Rotary Clubs of Guelph South and Guelph Trillium also receive a portion of the funds to help address critical community needs such as food security, family and youth services, transitional supports, and environmental stewardship.
Tour de Guelph is truly a community event. We have our work cut out for us in 2022!