Manitoba riders will rev up their motorcycles for a good cause.
Manitoba Motorcycle Ride for Dad (MMRD), a prostate cancer awareness and fundraising organization, kicked off its fifth annual campaign at McPhillips Station Casino Friday.
Wearing the MMRD uniform, a black and red jacket, Ed Johner, spokesman for the fundraiser, recalled the day he was diagnosed with prostate cancer, a disease in which some prostate cells lose control of growth and division.
"In 2007, I was diagnosed with prostate cancer as well as cancer on my left kidney," Johner, 55, said.
Johner had originally gone to his doctor about cataract surgery. The physician suggested a complete physical exam.
"A couple of weeks later, he called me into his office again and told me he was making an appointment to see a urologist. My PSA levels were elevated," Johner said.
PSA, or prostate-specific antigen, is a protein produced by cells of the prostate gland.
The National Cancer Institute's website says the higher the PSA levels, the more likely a man has prostate cancer, but it's always best to check with a doctor.
Johner emphasizes the importance of checkups even when symptoms aren't visible.
"The surgeon even said to me, 'I know you have prostate cancer but I can't feel a thing on your prostate,' " Johner said.
Johner also has a family history of prostate cancer. His father and uncle were victims of the disease.
"In the back of my mind, I think I thought it might happen one day, although that certainly doesn't prepare you for those words."
This fall marks Johner's sixth anniversary of being cancer-free.
"Prostate cancer isn't a death sentence nor does it have to alter your life in a bad way."
People can make pledges online at ridefordad.ca. All the funds raised stay in the province and go to research and awareness.
Dr. Sabine Mai of the Manitoba Institute of Cell Biology received $55,000 toward her research Friday.
"For prostate cancer, we use a filtration device that allows us to isolate the circulating tumour cells," Dr. Mai said.
"It's called 3D imaging where we access the structure and architecture of the cancer cells.
"We have started to isolate circulating tumour cells from those patients. Right now we have 196 samples. We want to follow the patients every six months for three to five years."
MMRD has raised $370,000 to date. This year, the riders hope to raise $130,000 to reach $500,000 in total.
The campaign originated in Ottawa in 2000 as a single-city event. Now, 30 Canadian cities participate in their own Motorcycle Ride for Dad.
The motorcycle ride starts May 25 at 10 a.m. in the Polo Park parking lot.
Riders will begin their journey from Earls to Assiniboia Downs with stops in Selkirk, Gimli and Lockport.
They will finish at Canad Inns Windsor Park.