By Stuart Foster, Contributing Writer
HUDSON – 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.