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.