Two men riding on bikes

Growling Beaver Brevet sponsored with gratitude


“It’s never a race, it’s a celebration. The Growling Beaver Brevet is a community coming together to celebrate fundraising a fantastic amount of money for a very real need,” says Jeff Parr, a senior member of Clairvest Group Inc.  

Jeff, together with Clairvest Group Inc., graciously stepped into the role of primary sponsor for this unique cycling event that raises funds to support Canadians living with Parkinson’s. Clairvest Group Inc. is especially philanthropic and fully engaged in its social responsibility to make an impact by helping employees donate to causes that matter most to them. 

Co-founded eight years ago by Evan Siddall and his tight-knit group of friends who love to cycle, the Growling Beaver Brevet was designed “by cyclists for cyclists, to be accessible to everyone.” Inspired by the Davis Phinney Foundation’s ethos of “Live Well Today,” it brings together the cycling community who ride 40, 60, 100 or 200 km routes on the scenic country roads of the Beaver Valley area in Ontario. 

When Jeff leaned into his love for cycling following the inaugural year of Growling Beaver, it opened the door to many new friendships in his life. “I don’t know what it is about cyclists,” Jeff shares jokingly. “They’re just so genuine and the goodness in them makes you want to take part. And when someone in the cycling community experiences something like Parkinson’s, the rally around them is incredible!” 

Connections, community and a commitment to a cause

Jeff is all too familiar with the impact Parkinson’s has on those living with it and the friends and family who surround them. Many years ago, Jeff’s father-in-law – a medical doctor himself – was diagnosed with Parkinson’s. “When you’re touched by something like Parkinson’s it becomes a cause you want to get behind,” Jeff says.  When his father-in-law was diagnosed, Jeff started raising funds to sponsor student researchers through Parkinson Canada. 

Slowly, Parkinson’s began to appear in other areas of his life – friends of the family through the local ski club, Alpine Ski Club, and thereafter in his good friend, Evan. In support of those he knew personally, over a handful of years Jeff sponsored Pedaling for Parkinson’s events and now focuses on Growling Beaver and the community that rallies behind Evan’s mission to live well with Parkinson’s. Jeff explained that Evan’s approach to living with Parkinson’s is an inspiration to everyone who knows him:  

“The appreciation for the simple things that bring us joy in life has been enhanced immeasurably because of how Evan has faced Parkinson’s. It motivates us to want to make this path that he’s been set on easier somehow,” Jeff shares.  

Evan has built a remarkable career in the financial services industry and with it, a network of philanthropic souls who know the importance of giving back because you can. Jeff, being one such connection, recalls a mentor once telling him, “It’s easy to write a cheque, but sharing your time and skills are way more valuable to give to a cause.” 

When Evan’s family, friends and colleagues saw how he was managing Parkinson’s not only in stride but with a drive to make life better for other’s living with Parkinson’s, too, it didn’t take long for the event to fill to the brim with people who could give both their time and money. 

Jeff reflects on what it means to see Evan (and others with Parkinson’s who join the ride) discovering how to live a full life despite having Parkinson’s. “Unfortunately, my father-in-law suffered greatly from not knowing how to live with Parkinson’s. Evan is a testament to what living well with Parkinson’s can look like,” Jeff says, “We see Evan and remember to focus on what’s truly important: building friendships and relationships, helping others, and gaining self-fulfillment out of being that kind of person, too.” 

In addition to many other causes Jeff supports, he also gives to Parkinson’s by sitting on the Board of Directors of the Davis Phinney Foundation and acting as an advisor to Parkinson Canada’s CEO, Karen Lee, Ph.D. 

Three people standing and smiling

A rough ride, like Parkinson’s

While the event is open to everyone and organizers encourage all to participate, the Growling Beaver isn’t your average community ride around a rubber-paved track. The ride is intended to be incredibly tough to act as a symbol of the ups and downs of living with Parkinson’s. On the rolling hills and gravel roads surrounded by a mesmerizing autumn landscape, riders experience muscle fatigue, stiffness, soreness, and the need to dig deep in order to complete their ride.   

Jeff explains it’s barely a comparison yet still so very illuminating of the daily struggles people like Evan experience when living with Parkinson’s. “I don’t know what it’s like to live with Parkinson’s,” says Jeff. “But I do know what it’s like to have my muscles burning and legs cramping up in the middle of this challenging ride.” That’s only scratching the surface of how tough the ride can be as in many past years, the difficulty of the ride is made complete by bone-chilling autumn rain.  

A juxtaposition to that undertone of genuine struggle is the social connectivity between cyclists that exemplifies the message that Canadians living with Parkinson’s are not alone. When it began, Growling Beaver was intended to be a small, tight-knit group of avid riders experiencing a difficult ride that would challenge them while also coming together to support Evan’s cause. It has grown into an impressive community of upwards of 250 cyclists! 

“You get going in groups of 10 or 15, there is always the fun chit-chat and a familiar sense of comradery even though you may only see these particular people annually,” Jeff says. 

Challenge yourself like Jeff, and support Canadians like Evan

The cyclists take on this challenge on October 1st this year in Collingwood, Ontario. Get involved to test your limits with this incredible community and raise funds to help support Canadians impacted by Parkinson’s. 

Register today to ride or donate