Cortes raises money for charity. Cigar charities, quite a good number of cigar brands run or support a charity program. And there are a few distributors that either support or started charities as well. They are giving back to the community. Some are open about it, raising awareness while trying to raise funds. Others do it on the low as they are afraid it is seen as marketing.

Cortes is raising money for pediatric palliative care at the Leuven University Hospital. It is one of the leading academic hospitals in Belgium. Over 70 Cortes employees from around the world joined the Felix500 initiative and rode over 10.000 KM to raise money. 

Classic in the making

The Felix500 is a classic in the making. For this first edition, 70 teams took on the challenge of each cycling at least 500 km over 8 days to raise money for this noble cause. Distances were measured using the Strava app, after which they were instantly shared across the Felix500 platform. The tour ran from 8 to 15 May 2021 in support of Kites, the pediatric palliative care team at Leuven University Hospital. This initiative was started by Joachim Spyns and Sofie Poncelet in memory of their late young son Felix. And the Cortèsiens also hopped onto their bikes to show support of their own!

“More than 70 teams cycled further than 90,000 km in total, and together we raised more than € 70,000 for this great cause. Frederik Vandermarliere was one of the first to join the initiative. Without the support of the J. Cortès, this initiative wouldn’t have gotten off the ground, says Joachim Spyns, Felix500 NPO.


No fewer than 70 Cortèsiens from Belgium, France, Sri Lanka, Spain, Ireland, and the US took part in this cycle tour in support of the cause. 14 different teams consisting of Cortes employees. According to the Felix500, every team should’ve covered at least 500 km between 8 and 15 May, meaning that the cigar group would have covered 7,000 km in total. 

Ministry of Cigars - Cortes raises money for charity
one of the 14 teams. Photo credit: Vandermarliere Cigar Family

But VCF (Vandermarliere Cigar Family) would not be VCF if it didn’t go the extra mile. “As a company, we wanted to break through the legendary 10,000 km barrier”, confirms CEO Frederik Vandermarliere. “Together, we pledged to donate €1 per kilometer to the cause if we managed to ride that magical distance. And we’d be able to say that we cycled as far as Sri Lanka, a country that we’ve built close ties with and that we’ve been unable to visit since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. But now we can say that we’ve gone there in spirit.” 

The Vandermarliere Cigar Family (the new name of the umbrella for J. Cortes and Oliva) supports a range of causes, but always with a specific vision in mind. “Any cause we support always has links to children and young people.”, adds Fred. “We believe that investment in the youth contributes to a better future. In Nicaragua, we run our own school, And in Sri Lanka, we’ve helped secure the education of children orphaned by the 2019 Easter bombings. But we also support great youth-focused projects closer to home, including ‘Een Hart voor West-Vlaanderen’, StreetwiZe founded by Arnoud Raskin and Onze Kinderen from Roeselare.

On the first Saturday, the Belgian Cortèsiens shot out of the blocks and rode a 90 km stage. This was followed by an after-hours stage on Monday and – on Wednesday – the conquering of the Rumbeke velodrome by the serious cyclists. However, even short shopping trips counted towards the total. Finally, on the second Saturday, everyone was able to bask in the glory of having achieved their goal of reaching Sri Lanka by bike… “Next year, we might even ride as far as Indonesia. If anyone’s interested in riding with us, we’ve got some attractive job opportunities, so everyone’s in with a chance!”, concludes Fred with a wink.

Ministry of Cigars - Cortes raises money for charity
Cortes employees cycling in exotic locations. Photo credit Vandermarliere Cigar Family


Habanos auctions 
Oliva Cigars 
Cigar Family Charitable Foundation
Cigars for Warriors 
CLE Foundation 
Project Piece of Heart
Tor Imports giving back
A home for my family
Joya de Nicaragua
Toast across America

Header photo by Katt Yukawa on Unsplash

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