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Ride for Dad revs up to raise awareness for men’s health

Hundreds of motorcyclists are expected to join this year, opening up conversations about men's health and raising funds for increased research
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Since 2004, the Grand River Ride for Dad has taken their fight against prostate cancer on the road in the name of promoting men’s health.

After a three-year layoff, riders are eager to hit the highway again and reunite with old friends for the return of this annual event. Organizer Dave Mathes expects anywhere from 600 to 800 motorcycles to take the scenic route around the region.

The Ride for Dad was founded by Byron Smith, the former president of the Ottawa Police Association, and his friend, Garry Janz. What originated in Ottawa gained traction across Canada, with Waterloo Region’s Ride for Dad being one of the largest in the country.

This year, they’re hoping to raise $100,000, and the funds go back into the community for prostate cancer awareness and research at facilities like the Grand River Regional Cancer Centre. The Ride for Dad contributed $25,000 in donations from proceeds of their “Ride Alone Together” fundraiser from 2021.

Prostate cancer has affected countless participants in some shape or form, whether they’re riding in honour of family or friends who are cancer survivors, they’ve been diagnosed with prostate cancer themselves, or they’re riding in memory of loved ones.

The Ride for Dad is a day to celebrate comradery and friendship, but its greater purpose is to advocate for men’s health and promote prostate cancer awareness for men over 40.

When detected early, the five-year prostate cancer survival rate is quite high.

“There’s a lot of good success stories out there about people coming to us and saying: ‘Hey, if it wasn’t for the Ride for Dad, I wouldn’t have never gotten checked. I would’ve never known,’” Mathes said.

In Canada, prostate cancer is the third leading cause of death from cancer in men. That’s why the Ride for Dad was established; to encourage all men over 40 to get a simple PSA test to check their prostate health and establish a baseline for their prostate health.

During his first year spearheading the event back in 2004, Mathes didn’t know anybody with prostate cancer, but because of his involvement over the years, he’s met countless men and their families affected by the disease.

“That’s why it’s so important for men to take responsibility for their health in general,” Mathes said. “Getting a PSA test, a prostate-specific antigen test, it’s just a simple blood test, but just going for that test can unlock a lot of other potentially hidden problems that you might have as well. It’s just a good starting point.

“That’s why we encourage people to go out and get a regular physical examination and make a PSA test part of their regimen.”

The Grand River Ride for Dad happens Saturday June 4, kicking off at 50 Sportsworld Crossing Road. Riders can pre-register online or in person at the Edelweiss Tavern in Kitchener on Friday June 3 from 11am to 6pm. Registration fee is $40 per rider, but the registration fee is waived with $100 in donations.

They’ll start with a parade and a police escorted ride from Sportsworld Crossing, over to the edge of Kitchener, finishing at Blackbridge Harley-Davidson and Apex Cycle in Cambridge.

The group will then embark on a 120-kilometre poker run from Royal Distributing in Guelph to the Wilmot Recreation Complex, finishing at the Waterloo Region Police Association and Recreation Centre.

Here in Waterloo Region, we’re fortunate to have a state-of-the-art facility in our own backyard. Thanks to fundraisers like the Ride for Dad, men will continue to receive the highest level of care and live to fight another day.

“If men discover that they have prostate cancer, there’s some comfort in knowing that they have the ability for excellent care locally here in our region,” Mathes said. “And a lot of it is because of the money that’s been provided by the Ride for Dad over the years.”

Register to ride, support a participant, or give to the cause and support the Grand River Ride for Dad at RideforDad.ca.

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