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Riding to raise awareness

Stephany Crowley and Bruce Howarth join the TELUS Ride for Dad in Ottawa.
Telus Ride for Dad

Motorcycle enthusiasts across Canada joined the annual TELUS Ride for Dad in large numbers this summer.

The program has grown since 2014, when The Royal Canadian Legion announced, at its dominion convention in Edmonton, that it was forming a partnership with the charity ride that raises money for prostate cancer research.

“When I look into the crowds and see all the Legion participants at our events, it is overwhelming. The support from the Legion Riders, volunteers and donors across Canada is incredible,” said Ride for Dad president and co-founder Garry Janz. “It is a powerful partnership.”

Janz and co-founder and Ride Captain Byron Smith began the ride in Ottawa in 2000 with 80 bikes. The ride has since grown to include motorcycle, all-terrain vehicle, watercraft and snowmobile events.

On June 4, 1,600 motorcycle riders participated in the TELUS Ride for Dad in Ottawa, raising $370,000 for prostate cancer research.

So far, about $18 million has been given to different research projects.

Colin Wackett, a spokesman for the organization involved in the Huronia ride, said the Legion and the Ride for Dad are natural partners.

“There are lots of reasons for Legion branches to support the ride. The riders are veterans; they’re younger; and they are natural volunteers. That what riders do all summer. They ride around and volunteer to help out at events,” he said.

Besides the money the ride raises, Wackett said a main focus for the ride is to raise awareness about prostate cancer. The sight of the bikes parading through cities is a reminder for men to go for checkups and help detect prostate cancer early.

“Every year, we (Huronia Branch) give out cheques. The doctors come up to Orillia to tell us what their particular research project is,” said Wackett, a member of the Legion’s Orillia, Ont., Branch and former rider with both the military police and the Toronto Police Service.

One example of research supported by the ride is a new medical procedure known as Stereotactic Ablative Body Radiotherapy (SBRT) which is used to deliver a high dose of radiation to a very precise area of the prostate. This allows the patient to have four or five treatments over one to two weeks instead of traditional therapy which requires many treatments over several weeks.

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