September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, something that the TELUS Ride for Dad group takes very seriously.
The TELUS Ride for Dad is the first motorcycle charity group to specifically raise funds for prostate cancer. The idea for the group was developed in 1999, by Garry Janz who is originally from Swift Current, and Byron Smith. Garry was producing a promotional video for the Kingston Cancer Centre and met Charlie Pester during his interviews. Charlie was a terminally ill prostate cancer patient. During the interview he told Gary that he wished he had been diagnosed earlier, as his cancer would have been treatable, but it was found to late.
Learn more about how to register for the Kingston-Quinte Telus Ride for Dad on the local registration page here: https://www.ridefordad.ca/kingston-quinte/
After that meeting, Gary set out to raise awareness for the early detection of prostate cancer and how that early detection can save lives. Later that year, Gary met Byron who was the President of the Ottawa Police Association. The two began talking and came up with the idea of the Ride for Dad group based on their mutual love of motorcycles. The first ride took place in 2000 and had 80 members attend. From just that one ride they raised $20,000.
Word of the success of that first ride spread to the Cancer Centres in Ontario and many centres began wanting to host their own rides. Through the Police Association Network, more chapters were added to the Ride for Dad in 2004, and each year they add even more chapters across the country. Each chapter in Canada hosts its own events to fundraise, but one of the main events that every chapter hosts is a one-day motorcycle ride. The large parade of motorcycles driving through cities and down highways, draws the attention of bystanders and local media as well. These rides help spread awareness about prostate cancer and helps get the conversation started.
Because of COVID-19, the large-scale rides were not able to happen this year. So instead, they began the Ride Alone Together initiative. Individual riders ride the route suggested by Ride for Dad and are encouraged to post pictures and share with others of their involvement in the ride to keep the awareness there. The Ride Alone Together began on June 21stand will continue until September 26th. Ride for Dad has been very fortunate to have very dedicated members and many have joined the Ride Alone Together. Despite these efforts though, fundraising revenue is still down 70% from last year. The group is hoping to put in a final push in the last few weeks and raise what they need to help support their campaigns for this year.
To join Ride Alone Together, riders register online and receive an email with a suggested route. Each rider is able to pick a date and time that works for them and will go ride alone or with a few registered friends. Riders will then follow the routes chosen and can ride the route as many times as they wish. Along the suggested routes are designated locations where riders are asked to take selfies and share on Facebook as a way to spread awareness.
Since the rides first began, Ride for Dad has raised over $35 million for their registered charity, Prostate Cancer Fight Foundation. The Foundation then reinvests the proceeds from events back into the area that they were raised to help fund ground-breaking medical research or public education and awareness campaigns. TELUS Ride for Dad is very thankful for all the dedication and hard-work put in from its chapter members, especially teams like the ones in Saskatoon and Swift Current. They are very optimistic for next year and are already creating new plans and ideas to ‘the new normal’ of 2021 and hope to make it a great year.
For more information about TELUS Ride for Dad and chapters near you visit www.ridefordad.ca
Story By Carol Baldwin, The Wakaw Reporter through the Local Journalism Initiative