The Wheels Of Life: Robert Colelli and Steve Gobbatto of Team Revolution

A team of dedicated cyclists are actively making a difference by raising funds for Humber River Hospital.

Many people donate money to worthwhile causes, which is a good thing indeed. It is the right thing to give back and help effect positive change, whatever the cause. It also makes us feel good and provides satisfaction if we are in a position to write that cheque. But some people go a little further in their support for a chosen cause and as a result of their efforts get a little more in return for their support. In short, they just don’t donate — they participate.

Team Revolution is just such a group. It is a team of dedicated cyclists with a passion for staying active and healthy while raising awareness and funds for Humber River Hospital, supporting the hospital’s vision to create a dramatically different health-care centre. This dream to revolutionize health care through Team Revolution came to Frank Ciccolini Jr. over a decade ago during his father’s stay at Humber River Hospital. Ciccolini Jr. was inspired by the dedicated patient care shown by the incredible staff but he also realized the need for a modernized health care facility.

Looking back, having a team of cyclists attempting to raise a generous sum of money seemed far- fetched. Little did they know that they would be a major contributor to North America’s first fully digital hospital.

Since its inception in 2011, Team Revolution has raised more than $3 million in support of Humber River.

We wanted to do something different. Instead of hosting a golf event or a dinner, we wanted to do something we’re passionate about. So, from that little idea to twelve years later, we have raised well over three million dollars, our team has doubled in size, and we’ve inspired and promoted a healthy and active lifestyle,” says Team Revolution co-chair Robert Colelli.

“SO, FROM THAT LITTLE IDEA TO TWELVE YEARS LATER, WE HAVE RAISED WELL OVER THREE MILLION DOLLARS.” — Robert Colelli

They call themselves Team Revolution because they have shown that any goal, no matter how seemingly unattainable, can be reached. What is cemented in their life is that the power of believing in yourself and working together can lead to extraordinary accomplishments that can change lives for the better.

When the original 60 riders formed Team Revolution in 2011, they had ambitious goals: to conquer some of Italy’s most challenging hills in a Gran Fondo (translation: Big Ride), the celebrated cycling race that tests the strength, stamina and determination of some of the world’s best cyclists in a country known for them. Cycling in Italy is as legendary as its football — each cyclist is world-class and recognized as the best of the best. From Francesco Moser to Gino Bartali, Maurice Garin to the legendary Fausto Coppi, Italian cyclists are among the best the world has ever seen.

Cycling in a Gran Fondo was a lofty goal with a modest start. Based in Ontario, the team chose The Blue Mountains outside of Collingwood to train. Part of the Niagara Escarpment and featuring the tallest hills in the central portion of the province, this was the closest terrain they could find that came close to replicating the mountains of Italy and the test that a Gran Fondo would present to them all.

Article Continued Below ADVERTISEMENT




SCROLL TO CONTINUE WITH CONTENT

“We all did a training ride at Blue Mountain, and it was probably the first race a lot of us did,” recalls co-chair Steve Gobbatto. “And to have to do a ride that is probably 100 kilometres and involves a lot of climbing scared the daylights out of everybody. But when you complete that and succeed, you know in your mind you are ready for the first Gran Fondo. That sense of accomplishment when you cross the finish line is like nothing I’ve ever achieved before.”

In 2012, after months of intense training, Team Revolution realized its goal by participating in a Gran Fondo in Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region, which raised $425,000 for Humber River Hospital. All saw the opportunity to not only donate but also participate by doing two things they are passionate about — cycling and raising funds to help Humber River Hospital continue to innovate by using technology to reinvent patient care.

“TEAM REVOLUTION ALSO PARTICIPATES IN OTHER CHARITY EVENTS TO HELP BRING MUCH-NEEDED FUNDRAISING DOLLARS, AWARENESS AND EXPOSURE.” — Steve Gobbatto

Among the cycling community the word began to spread about Team Revolution. The team’s size has more than doubled since its beginnings in 2011. The number of active cyclists grew to 143 last year, with 60 going to Italy, and this year the goal is 150 cyclists — all raising funds for a worthwhile cause.

“One of the reasons we go to Italy every two years is to not only race in a Gran Fondo, but to challenge ourselves,” says Colelli. “When you look at what people who are in a hospital are going through, our challenges are nothing compared to them. We are blessed to be able to do something we enjoy and stay healthy and active. But when you get to the top of a mountain in Italy you are shaking, you are so excited and so humbled to be surrounded by snow peaks. We are a team. We’re more than just a cycling club, we are friends.”

Team Revolution has participated in five Italian Gran Fondos to date, conquering the Gran Fondo Scott Piacenza in the mountains of Piacenza, overcoming treacherous weather and bumpy roads in 2016 in Terracina and, in 2018, setting its sights on the Verona area in the Gran Fondo Peschiera Del Garda, which was a true test of strength and determination to complete.

The 2020 Gran Fondo was rescheduled to 2022 due to COVID, and the team wanted to make a special effort to mark its 10th anniversary but also to make up for the shortfall in fundraising since 2018. The team travelled to Provincia Siena, Tuscany, participated in the Gran Fondo del Gallo Nero and raised more than $650,000. That is the power of determination. This year’s Gran Fondo will be in the Milan region, with a brief ride over into France.

But perhaps the biggest impact Team Revolution has made goes even beyond the more than $3 million it has raised for Humber River Hospital.

“Our fundraising reach has gone beyond Team Revolution,” says Gobbatto. “I think the foundation of Team Revolution has also brought other fundraising dollars to Humber and greater awareness to Humber and also other events. So now Team Revolution also participates in other charity events to help bring much-needed fundraising dollars, awareness and exposure. Its goal has gone past the initial reach of just forming Team Revolution to support Humber only. It’s grown beyond that, and I think the lifestyle we’ve promoted within the group is also one of our biggest accomplishments.”

Beyond just another regular charity dinner or golf tournament, Team Revolution is an innovative approach to fundraising: good people doing something they are passionate about with ambitious plans to impact our world in a positive way. Not just donating, but participating for the greater good of their community, and enjoying the ride along the way.


INTERVIEW BY MARC CASTALDO

Previous post

Viva Corrado Paina

Next post

Keith Pears: A Chef's Journey to Achieving His Dreams

Rick Muller

Rick Muller