VICTORIA -- An idea sparked by the Times Colonist, Victoria’s Jawl family, and the Victoria Foundation has now raised more than $5-million for local charities and organizations amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The Rapid Relief Fund started out with a goal of $1-million, which it raised in just 48-hours.

Now, a local cyclist and entrepreneur is hoping to raise more money for the cause, by completing a 24-hour ride. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Jesse Minty was planning on cycling across Canada to raise money for BC Children's hospital.

"So I took lemons, and I made lemonade," said Minty.

The cyclist is turning 40 on Thursday and thought there was no better way to celebrate than with a 24-hour ride, beginning at noon, on Wednesday. Minty will be livestreaming his efforts on YouTube while raising money for the Rapid Relief fund.

"The biggest thing is we're helping local," he said.

Minty is offering people a number of ways to support the cause. A GoFundMe page is set up to collect cash donations. Meanwhile, people can also buy a gift from several local businesses supporting his ride; 10 per cent of all gift cards sold will be used to buy grocery cards from The Red Barn Market. Those grocery gift cards, along with an added 10 per cent, per card, from the markets will then be donated to the relief fund. Minty says it is his way of supporting both businesses and people.

The Victoria Foundation's CEO says the number of people looking to get involved is inspiring, and proves the community really cares.

Thrifty Foods is also donating to the local cause. On Sunday, the grocery chain announced that it would be matching donations up to $100,000, in a challenge it scheduled to last for four days. Thanks to the generosity of shoppers, the challenge ended early.

"56-hours [after it started], we got a call from the Victoria Foundation advising us that an amazing amount of customers had stepped up, which is something we are very proud of," said Ralf Mundel, senior director of retail operations at Thrifty Foods.

The $100,000 donation was doubled in just over two days, which Mundel says shows how the community is coming together.

"Those who can donate are supporting those who are struggling, and that is the definition of community."

To all the people who have donated to the fund so far, the Victoria Foundation says, "Thank you".