Dignitas International’s annual Race for Dignity event started because of Scott Simpson (picture at right), a Canadian triathlete living with HIV.
In 2004, angered by the unequal access to antiretroviral medications for the millions of people living with HIV around the world, Scott decided to cycle in the Tour D’Afrique (A 13,000 kilometre race across the content of Africa from Cairo to Cape Town) to raise funds and awareness for people with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa.
In preparation for this immense challenge, Scott participated in a series of endurance events and became the first HIV-positive athlete to ever compete in the Triathlon Age Group World Championships.
Unfortunately the accumulation of gruelling training began to take its toll on his body. It was during an Ironman race that Scott’s body gave out. He collapsed during the race and was rushed from the course by ambulance. Scott’s personal dream of cycling across Africa to help others living with HIV ended that day.
While speaking publicly at the University of Toronto about his ordeal, a U of T student was inspired and knew immediately what needed to be done: “We need to finish Scott’s Race for Dignity.”
And that is exactly what 220 university students at three different campuses set out to do on December 1st, 2005 – World AIDS Day. Spinning on stationary bikes, these students ‘traveled’ 1,300km and raised over $9,200. Today, more than a decade later, high schools and universities across the Greater Toronto Area hold this annual event on their own campuses and continue this tradition of saving lives.How did the Race for Dignity begin?