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Oct. 25, 2021 | Monday
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Friends pedalled for a cause earning $2,000 for Niagara charities
Steffanie Bjorgan, executive director of Red Roof Retreat, Marlo Staganski, office manager of the NOTL Pedal Pub and Shari Hartwick, program co-ordinator for KidSport Niagara forged friendships during Pedal Pub's fundraiser last month. (Brittany Carter/Niagara Now)

With the help of the newly established Pedal Pub, Niagara-on-the-Lake residents pedalled together to raise $2,000 for Niagara area charities in June.

After only a month of operation, the tour company offered discounted rides to residents, with all proceeds going to Red Roof Retreat and KidsSport Niagara.

Marlo Saganski, officer manager of Pedal Pub, said it came as a surprise that Shari Hartwick, program co-ordinator of KidSport Niagara, and Steffanie Bjorgan, executive director of Red Roof Retreat, have been friends for years, and that it added to the whole experience.

Saganski said it was an online video that inspired her to choose Red Roof Retreat as a recipient.

“Red Roof had this video on their website that made me cry, and I was like, this is it, this is the one,” she said.

As for adding KidSport Niagara to the mix, she had worked with the not-for-profit in the past in Calgary and said it was a natural fit for her.

“I grew up as an athlete and I think that’s very important to give to other kids,” she added.

The two-week fundraiser brought in $1,000, and Tony Visca, owner of the Pedal Pub, matched the amount. The money was split evenly between the two organizations and presented informally on Thursday morning at the Sweets and Swirls Café in the community centre.

The fundraiser was planned as a way for the new business to give back to the community – something Visca has been doing in his capacity as a business owner for as long as Saganski can remember.

She has been working for Visca since she was 19, she said, and she's seen her fair share of charitable giving during that time.

“I have worked for him for almost 10 years. I started at Montana’s on Clifton Hill and then went to Johnny Rocco’s in St. Catharines."

In an email response, Saganski said that while the Pedal Pub NOTL may be new to the area, it is part of the 43 North Restaurant Group family. The group has been established in the community for years and has a history of giving back to the community, she added.

“For instance, 43 North Restaurant Group has donated over $150,000 to local Niagara charities throughout the years. They have also donated $25,000 to the new hospital in St. Catharines,” she said in the response.

Saganski said the Pedal Pub will likely pair with both organizations again in the future. Right now, the company is focused on maintaining the summer schedule.

The whole experience raising money for both charities and meeting Bjorgan and Hartwick is something she said she’s happy she was a part of.

“Last week they were on the bike. It was fantastic, we went to the Supper Market in Niagara-on-the-Lake. They had all of their friends on there,” she said.