My friends from the Manitoba Motorcycle Ride For Dad have now confirmed what countless others have long suspected -- I'm an Easy Rider.
Don't worry, unlike the 1969 cult movie Easy Rider, there won't be any shotgun blasts and a blaze of glory when the credits roll. The designation is much less sinister: I'm a media Easy Rider responsible for spreading the word about the annual ride.
So, this is a call-out to all my fellow riders that the Ride For Dad departs tomorrow morning at 10 a.m. sharp from the south Polo Park parking lot near Earls, with a police-escorted parade that will roar down Portage Avenue to Assiniboia Downs.
The ride then weaves its way north, with stops in Selkirk and Gimli. On the way back to Winnipeg, riders will stop at Skinner's in Lockport and finish off the day with a wrap-up party at Canad Inns Windsor Park.
Ride for Dad is supported and endorsed by the Canadian Police Association, and our local ride is organized by members of the Winnipeg Police Service. The ride 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 ride featured 80 motorcyclists and raised $20,000. The event has since expanded nationwide and now features 29 events across Canada that have collectively raised more than $4 million.
The first Manitoba ride took place in 2009 when 487 riders collectively raised $69,000 in support of prostate cancer research and education. In recent years -- thanks in large part to former Winnipeg Blue Bomber kicking legend and PR guru Trevor Kennard, who is in charge of promoting the ride -- the annual event has been kicked into high-gear. To date, our local ride has raised more than $360,000.
Last year, 837 riders and their passengers participated. This year, organizers are hoping to register more than 1,000 riders and raise at least $140,000, with a goal of surpassing the $500,000 mark. Sure, riding around Manitoba is huge fun. But the real purpose of Ride For Dad is to raise awareness and money for prostate-cancer research. All funds raised locally stay right here in Manitoba for research and education.
And if you have any doubts about the cause, here's a staggering factoid that you need to know: More than 1.2 million men in Canada have prostate cancer, and 80 per cent of them don't even know it.
Last year, Ed Johner, co-chair of the Manitoba Motorcycle Ride For Dad and a cancer survivor, told me that a simple three-minute test can save your life.
"I wouldn't be here today if I had avoided being tested," Johner said. "That's our message to men and their families. The best way to fight prostate cancer is with early diagnosis."
On that note, in addition to spreading the word, I'll also be spreading at my next visit to the doctor. Sorry if that sounds a little crass, but that's how us Easy Riders roll.