Twenty-five riders set off from downtown George Town in Exuma this month to raise funds for the local hospital, with participants ranging from everyday Bahamians to one of the most decorated cyclists in the world.
While small in numbers, Ride for Exuma came up big for the island by raising more than US$20,000 for the new 32,000-square foot facility.
Steve Bauer, who won the silver medal in the 1984 Olympics, led the way through a picturesque yet challenging 70km route down the spine of Great Exuma. After the Olympics, Bauer went on to complete 11 Tours de France from 1985 to 1999. In 1988, he won the first stage of the event and led the Tour de France for five days.
With many other records and wins to his name, Bauer provided incredible star power for grass-root initiative to create a hospital fund so everyone on Exuma, from the tourist to the everyday Bahamian, can have access to state-of-the-art medical care.
Frank Smith, the Chairman of the Public Hospital Authority in the Bahamas, traveled from the capital in Nassau to attend the event and provide an update on the hospital’s grand opening, which is expected to occur in early 2016.
“Exuma’s hospital is an issue that touches us all,” said Peter Nicholson, the President of GIV Bahamas Inc, who donated generously to the cause and also purchased at live auction a riding experience with Bauer in the Niagara Region.
“The best part is people came together to help make this happen and I want to thank everyone for their support.”
Indeed, Ride for Exuma (rideforexuma.com) is the brainchild of Howard Chang, the President of Top Drawer Creative Inc., and Ash Singh, the President of Equity Builders. Both of these Toronto-based entrepreneurs own homes in Exuma, and both are members of Les Domestiques (lesdomestiques.com), a premiere cycling group in Canada comprised of elite businessmen that use riding as a vehicle for philanthropic giving.
Members of Les Domestiques, and even homeowners at Grand Isle Resort & Spa, the official hotel partner, took in the beauty of Exuma over an action packed long weekend, enjoying exciting explorations on land and sea by day and special dinners and banquets by night.
On November 8th, the morning of the race, cyclists were treated to a police escort, a pace car filled with refreshments, and maintenance courtesy of Velofix, the largest mobile bike shop in North America. The group stopped off for a rest at Santana’s, a famously quaint beach shack serving seafood and ice-cold drinks, and a well-known haunt of Exuma island owner Johnny Depp.
While the ride at times had the feel of a race, it was very much a friendly competition. By the end, it was not the Olympian, Steve Bauer, or any of the seasoned cyclists who crossed the finish line first.
Instead, Tyrone Munroe, Partner and Director of Operations for GIV Bahamas Inc, and a proud native of Exuma, was encouraged and then propelled to the finish by a this gracious band of philanthropists.
“Not only is this a great cause, but it is being led by great people. I think that is what impressed me the most,” said Munroe, who recently bought his cycling equipment and trained for the event all year. “They all really took me under their wing and next year I expect many more Bahamians will get involved in this amazing event.”
All donors to the hospital received tax receipts form the Exuma Foundation and the newly formed Exuma Foundation of Canada.
If you wish to contribute to the fund, or make any donations to worth causes on Exuma, write Jeff Todd, Director of Communications at GIV Bahamas Inc., at email@example.com