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Ride for Heart raises $3.9M

More than 13,000 cyclists woke up early Sunday morning to pedal on the city’s car-free highways and raise money for heart and stroke research.

The 24th annual Ride for Heart raised $3.9 million – the Heart and Stroke Foundation’s fundraising goal and about $600,000 more than was donated last year.

The route started at Exhibition Place, took bikers east on the Gardiner Expressway and north on the Don Valley Parkway before looping back.

Heart-attack survivor Sheryl Gill took part in the ride, four years after going into cardiac arrest during a run in California.

“I was doing a 10K and I literally collapsed to the ground and my heart stopped,” Gill told CityNews.

“I had to have open-heart surgery and now I am here to tell the tale and use my body to be active and be an example.”

Foundation director Dr. Marco Di Buono said the ride is vital in the battle against heart disease, and so far the charity has put more than $13 million into research and treatments.

“Heart disease and stroke still claim one in three lives,” Di Buono said. “It’s the leading cause of death for women in Canada, and without this kind of great fundraising support from the public, we certainly wouldn’t be able to make a change in people’s heart health.”

The Gardiner and DVP reopened around 2 p.m. after a 12-hour closure.

To donate to the Ride for Heart, click here.