Rain is the enemy of all who ride. Thankfully, when the fourth annual Motorcycle Ride For Dad rolled through town last Saturday, not a single drop fell from the sky.
It's a safe bet, however, a few teardrops fell.
On the surface Ride For Dad may simply appear to be yet another excuse for folks to get together and enjoy the freedom and camaraderie associated with riding a motorcycle.
But the real reasons for Ride for Dad are profoundly more important. In addition to raising money, the event also serves as a reminder to those of us who have lost friends and family members to cancer, particularly prostate cancer, and just how important it is to get regular checkups.
Ed Johner, co-chair of the local Ride For Dad and a cancer survivor, said a simple three-minute test can save your life.
Johner, who could possibly be the most youthful looking 54-year old on Earth, was diagnosed with prostate cancer following a routine checkup in 2007. Cancer was also later found in one of his kidneys.
"I wouldn't be here today if I had avoided being tested," said Johner, who is now cancer-free. "That's our message to men and their families. The best way to fight prostate cancer is with early diagnosis."
The first Manitoba version of Ride For Dad took place in 2009 when 487 riders participated and collectively raised more than $69,000 for the cause. Thanks in large part to the dedicated volunteers, who tirelessly organize the ride, and the hard work of former Winnipeg Blue Bombers legend and public-relations guru Trevor Kennard, who is in charge of promoting the ride, more than 800 riders raised more than $100,000 this year.
The ride is supported and endorsed by the Canadian Police Association and our local ride is organized by members of the Winnipeg Police Association.
The Ride For Dad was created by veteran Ottawa broadcaster Garry Janz, who joined forces with his friend Byron Smith of the Ottawa Police Association in 2000. That first year, the dynamic duo orchestrated a ride that featured 80 motorcyclists and raised $20,000. The ride has since grown to nationwide status and now features 29 events throughout Canada that have collectively raised more than $4 million.
The participants represent all walks of life and ride practically every make and model of motorcycle imaginable. Riders and their passengers gathered pledges for the cause and then joined a police-escorted parade that departed from the Polo Park Earl's restaurant and roared down Portage Avenue to the Red River Exhibition grounds. The ride featured a poker run and weaved its way north with a stop in Selkirk and lunch in Gimli. The ride home included an ice-cream stop at Skinner's in Lockport and a wrap-up party at the Canad Inns Windsor Park.
In case you missed all the fun, no worries, on Sunday local motorcyclists will participate in the 11th annual Breast Cancer Pledge Ride. Motorcyclists from across the province will meet at Assiniboia Downs for a poker derby/observation ride to Winnipeg Beach and back with stops along the way to raise funds for breast cancer research and prevention.
Since its inception, the ride has raised $416,000 in support of the CancerCare Manitoba Foundation to fight breast cancer. The ride takes place rain or shine and registration is 8:30-11:30 a.m. For more information. check them out on the web at www.breastcancerpledgeride.com .