“It was really a very emotional moment for me when I watched all those bikes hit the road on the Ride for Dad run,” said Doug Nugent, a South Dundas prostate cancer survivor, who watched well over 2,000 riders leave the Ottawa Aviation Museum Saturday, June 4, 2016.
“Thirty of us survivors were actually there in Ottawa, as an honour guard, to see the bikes off. Riders waved and honked at us as they headed out. It was just a great day.”
The mission of the TELUS Ride For Dad is to raise funds to save men’s lives by supporting prostate cancer research and raising public awareness of the disease. The 2016 Grand Marshall of the Ride was recently retired Ottawa Senator, Chris Phillips.
This year’s ride had its kick off at the Aviation Museum in Ottawa: then riders left the Canada Post building heading for Russell and Iroquois. Riders returned to the EY Centre in Ottawa for wind down activities.
The annual Ride for Dad hopes to ultimately raise at least $350,000, according to Dale Lefevre, the station captain at the Iroquois stop.
Like assistant Monica Mroz, and Chris “Freedom Hog” English, who manned the Iroquois poker run tables with other orange-shirted volunteers, Lefebvre said he was very impressed with both the scenic location in Iroquois and the many volunteers who came out to take part.
“This was the first time the route came this way,” he said. “The Iroquois-Matilda Lions were here, and so was the Iroquois fire department and so many other volunteers. South Dundas is known for its great people. We were treated like Cadillacs here,” he laughed.
Organizers estimate that at least 1,000 bikers came into Iroquois between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.: many South Dundas residents turned out to see them as they rumbled past on County Road 2.
After taking part in the Ottawa honour guard, South Dundas survivors Dave Black, co-chair of the Black Walnut Support Group, which meets in South Mountain, Doug Nugent, Black Walnut Support Group, and Tom Clapp, chair of the Eastern Ontario Prostate Cancer Awareness Committee, were up at the Point to help out and thank the riders.
Doug Nugent and Tom Clapp emphasized how important the Ride’s focus on creating prostate cancer awareness is.
“This group raises so much money for research at Ottawa Hospital into prostate cancer,” added Dave Black. “The money stays in our area too. The Ottawa Hospital and the prostate cancer program at Winchester District Memorial Hospital are recipients. Innovative research is going on all the time, like the Da Vinci Robot Surgical System specifically designed for prostate surgery.”
Among the special riders arriving in Iroquois in the afternoon were Garry Janz, co-founder of the Ride For Dad program and Jeff Champagne, National Director of Development and Communications for Ride For Dad.
“This was a fabulous turn-out,” Janz said, “and so encouraging. As a result of our Rides, we are funding five new research projects in Ottawa. And the volunteers are just amazing. It remains a pleasure to be part of this project.”
“Today is actually my first time as the National Director,” said Jeff Champagne. “I am really impressed. The scenery along this new route is simply fantastic. We don’t want people to lose sight of what we are raising the money for, but we also want our riders to enjoy this experience. I’m proud to say that we have raised $18,000,000 since Ride For Dad started in 2000.”
Richard “Radar” Lefebvre, a member of Freedom Chapter 9983, who has been riding his bike in Ride For Dad since 2006, put it this way.
“My dad died of prostate cancer, so this cause is close to my heart. I want to make sure that the research always keeps on coming.”