Roger Peduzzi (third from right) stands with fellow riders rides in a past bike ride to raise
money for people with HIV or AIDS who need help taking care of their pets.
By Stuart Foster, Contributing Writer
Click here to read the story on the Community Advocate website.
Retired local veterinarian Roger Peduzzi is preparing to ride the sixth biennial Phinney’s Ride, a fundraiser that helps people living with HIV or AIDS take care of their pets.
Peduzzi founded Hudson Animal Hospital in 1986 and had previously raised money for HIV and AIDS awareness as part of the Ride Far fundraiser. When those charity bike rides stopped, he began doing Phinney’s Ride to raise money for the Massachusetts-based organization, Phinney’s.
Peduzzi said that Phinney’s Friends was one of the organizations he had raised money for with Ride Far. He said he wanted to continue the effort to fundraise for them.
“I also had some clients at that point who were either AIDS or HIV positive and I saw some of the hurdles they had to go through to keep their pets, so I thought it was important to support them,” Peduzzi said.
Peduzzi said that the companionship of pets can become even more important when someone has a serious disease like HIV or AIDS. At the same time, though, pet ownership can become less affordable due to mounting medical costs.
Daniela Caride, the president of Phinney’s, said that the fundraising of Phinney’s Ride allows people with HIV or AIDS to not have to worry about whether they can afford to keep their pets.
“They can stay with them and we pay vet bills,” Caride said. “We ship pet food, we pay vet visits, we help them in many ways and we have a lot of people that we help on a regular basis that live with HIV and AIDS.”
Caride said this is a dear cause for Phinney’s. Indeed, when the program started as part of the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (MSPCA) in 1996, it was inspired by MSPCA law-enforcement officer Bill Phinney, who died of AIDS in 1995.
“It was devastating for everyone to see him save so many pets throughout his life and be so dedicated to the pets and the animals, and suddenly he had to start surrendering his own pets because he didn’t have the means to keep the pets during his illness,” Caride said.
Peduzzi’s two-day ride has, in the past, run from nearby Stow to Fitzwilliam, N.H. This year, though, the ride will be from Bristol, Rhode Island to Little Compton, also in Rhode Island. Peduzzi said this route features a lot of twists and turns to stretch it out to forty miles.
Peduzzi rides with a team of people that changes from fundraiser to fundraiser, although some of the team members have stayed consistent.
“Honestly, we’re kind of looking for younger riders to start taking over from us,” Peduzzi said. “Mid-seventies is probably pushing as far as picking long rides.”
People who wish to participate in the fundraiser have many options this year on account of the COVID-19 pandemic.
They are able to complete any kind of ride from Sept. 1 to Nov. 1. There is a $20 fee to register with a pledge to raise at least $200 for the fundraiser.
Peduzzi said that he has raised over $14,000 so far this year. That’s on top of more than $74,000 raised over Peduzzi’s four previous rides for Phinney’s.
“He’s amazing, he’s a force of nature really,” said Caride. “Every time we have a ride, they raise thousands of dollars for this specific fund.”
Peduzzi also emphasized that there are very few expenses for the ride, as riders pay for their bicycle maintenance. The lodging they stay in overnight is donated.
“Essentially, all of the money that we raise goes to Phinney’s and none of it is used for administrative stuff,” Peduzzi said.
MetroWest Daily News
By bike or boat — or even tractor — Phinney’s Ride is back again in 2021.
The ride is open to anyone who makes a trip in the name of fundraising to provide care and financial assistance for the four-legged friends of Massachusetts people with HIV and AIDS.
“Some people that donate, they know how important their pets are to them and they’d hate to see pets get taken away from other people just because they’re going through hard times,” said Roger Peduzzi, 73, a retired veterinarian who has been doing cycling fundraisers for the nonprofit since the early 2000s. “I think helping people like that is what we should do."
Helping people keep their pets
Phinney’s Friends Inc. is a nonprofit based in Lincoln that helps low-income people keep their pets in Massachusetts by doing such things as picking up the tab on vet bills; helping pay for registration fees; providing food; or arranging fostering when people are in the hospital.
“My interest started back when I was in practice and I did have several clients that were HIV positive and I kind of saw that they were discriminated against.” said Peduzzi, who founded the Hudson Animal Hospital in 1986. “I guess I felt like it was one way to support them and let them know they weren’t completely alone.”
Peduzzi said the ride was a great way to get together with old friends, and since the ride started in 2013, many of the donations he collected came from veterinary clients.
How did Phinney’s Friends get started?
Phinney’s Friends was founded by the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in 1996, and became an independent nonprofit in 2009. It's named for Bill Phinney, a law enforcement officer for the MSPCA who died in 1995 of complications due to AIDS.
“It was devastating for everyone to see him lose his own pets when he got sick, because he needed help taking care of them, and he didn’t have that kind of support,” said Phinney’s Friends Inc. President Daniela Caride, of the help the nonprofit offers. She said she has found her best friends through Phinney's Friends, forging connections with others who wanted to donate time helping people and animals.
The ride, she said, raises “funds for a group of people who need help with their pets that is very dear to our heart, because it’s related to the way we started.”
Any ride will do for the 25th anniversaryThis year, the 25th anniversary of the nonprofit, people can participate with any type of ride, not just bicycles. Participants have until Nov 1 to embark on their trips — or pledge at least $100 to receive a “Couch Potato Hero Certificate.”
Peduzzi will soon lead an 80-mile bicycle ride through Rhode Island with a small group. He said the average age of his group of riders is in the mid-60s, but he’s hoping younger riders become interested in the nonprofit and take up the torch in years to come.
“We thought it would be really nice to be able to offer something that people can do by themselves or do with their friends, do as a family, and not necessarily rely on going to an event that people may not feel comfortable with," Caride said. “I’m planning to do a tractor ride, because we have a little farm here, just for the fun of it."
Lillian Eden can be reached at 617-459-6409 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @LillianWEden.