Inclement weather last Saturday morning was not going to deter Darren Baptiste from participating for the first time in the seventh annual “Ajax Ride 4 Youth” event organized by Ajax councillor, Renrick Ashby.
After all, he spent nearly four-and-a-half months in 2010 riding his Kawasaki KLR 750 through rough terrain on a solo journey through 13 countries from Toronto to Trinidad & Tobago, his birthplace.
He joined Ashby and few other riders on a short charity ride to Orillia to raise funds for J. Clarke Richardson and neighbouring Notre Dame Catholic secondary schools graduates who are pursuing post-secondary education at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology in Durham.
“When it comes to doing anything for a charitable cause, I am there,” said Baptiste, who is a software developer. “I am at the stage in my life where I can afford to give something back.”
The charitable ride last weekend on his new BMW R1200, which he bought a month ago, was a breeze compared to the cross-border journey four years ago.
“Even though I am not from that community, I called it ‘Goin’ Toco’ because Toco signifies going far,” he said.
Nearly 54 kilometres from Port-of-Spain, Toco is the most north easterly village in Trinidad, where the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean meet.
Baptiste and Jamaican-born friend and Durham resident, Charles Senior, plan to ride from Toronto to Rio de Janeiro in 2016 to raise funds for the Centre for Addiction & Mental Health.
“We will pass through the Canadian hometown of every member of the Summer Olympics team, collect mementos and deliver them to the Olympic Village in Rio before the Games begin,” said Baptiste, who migrated to Canada in 1974, and is a Pathways to Education Canada mentor and the creator of the Cop Watch Toronto iPhone app.
With support from his wife Melody and family and community members, Ashby has raised almost $20,000 from the summer ride.
“This is not for the kids who are really doing well academically and will be eligible for all kinds of scholarships or the young people whose parents can afford to send them to college or university,” said Ashby, who was born in Trinidad. “I am doing this for those young people who want to pursue post-secondary education but might be unable to do so because their parents are not in a position financially to help them get there. There are many such youths in that position and those are the ones I want to reach and help them along the way.”
A total of 15 young people have benefited from scholarships.
“I have got to meet all of them and hear their stories and how much the financial support means to them,” said Ashby, who is a City of Toronto senior planner. “That makes what we are doing more rewarding.”
Durham’s first Black councillor since March 2008, Ashby started riding a motorcycle nine years ago as a form of recreation.