Each year, cars and trucks that regularly occupy a portion of Toronto’s Don Valley Parkway and Gardiner Expressway are replaced by cyclists and walkers participating in the Ride for Heart (RFH). For the past three years, two familiar faces among the crowd were Leslie Shai, Scientific Affairs Associate at Baylis, and Doran Avivi, Research and Development Engineer.
The first time Leslie Shai participated in the RFH was in 2017 when her daughter, who was eight years old at the time, needed a guardian to accompany her on the 25 km bike ride. It began as something fun, an event that would allow her to spend quality time with her daughter and benefit heart and stroke research. When she arrived at the traffic-free highways of Toronto where the RFH is held, what she experienced was something very special.
“What I wasn’t expecting was everyone’s reasons for participating,” says Leslie. “There were people riding for a friend or family member who has suffered from a stroke, others were celebrating their journey to recovery and remembering where they have been. It was very humbling.”
In 2017, Leslie and Doran were accompanied by 14 colleagues from Baylis Medical—a number that would drastically grow the following year when Baylis’ corporate RFH team, the Baylis Bikers, would be formally created.
“At first, I was a little hesitant to create and lead a corporate team because I thought I wouldn’t be good at it,” recalls Leslie. “I realized that I don’t have to be perfect at something. Although it was out of my comfort zone, I couldn’t live with not doing it.”
In early 2018, Leslie reached out to Deb Douma, Vice President of Human Resources for corporate sponsorship in the hopes of engaging her colleagues to join in the RFH journey. Leslie saw it as a great opportunity for employees across all departments to connect in a shared experience.
“When Leslie reached out to me, my immediate thought was, ‘absolutely,’” says Deb. “As a company that specializes in cardiology devices, the RFH aligns excellently with what we do and our core value of Corporate Social Responsibility. Heart health affects everyone in one way or another and as an organization, we wanted to help our employees support such a great cause.”
Once the Baylis Bikers was established, Doran helped Leslie co-captain the team during the 2018 and 2019 RFH. Because of their efforts, Baylis employees and their guests have collectively traveled over 4,000 km since the corporate team was formed.
“[The RFH] has always been a great experience, but as a captain, seeing the impact we have as an organization has been an eye-opener for me—it has fueled me to keep growing our impact every year,” says Doran. “It’s nice to be able to do something fun with colleagues and friends that helps benefit the greater good.”
On June 2, 2019, more than 70 employees and their friends and family members joined the Baylis Bikers and participated in the RFH. Canadians will benefit from research and initiatives funded by the Heart and Stroke through their donations.
Baylis employees take every opportunity they can to uphold the company’s mission of Improving the Lives of People Around the World. In this case, the Baylis Bikers were born because a little girl has the courage to ask her mom to ride a bike for a good cause.