A group of dedicated motorcyclists made heads turn while riding through much of central Prince Edward Island on Saturday.
However, onlookers were not focused on the noise of the bikes, or why they were travelling in less-than-ideal conditions, but rather the important cause they were championing.
The sixth annual P.E.I. Telus Motorcycle Ride for Dad was held Saturday to raise funds for prostate cancer research and awareness.
“It’s as big a problem for men as breast cancer is for women but men don’t like to talk about prostate cancer… it’s very difficult to get men talking about it,” said John McKinlay-Key, national director of operations for the ride. “We want people to start talking about prostate cancer and we want them to talk to their doctors about getting checked because we believe early detection is key to a successful outcome.”
Prostate cancer will affect an estimated one in every seven men.
While the disease is often treated successfully when caught early, if delayed there is an increased chance of the cancer spreading to another organ or bone.
The ride, now in it’s 13th year nationally, has raised more than $13 million for prostate cancer research and awareness in communities across Canada, including more than $37,000 in P.E.I.
“The money is reinvested in the community… what we raise here today for prostate cancer research and awareness in P.E.I. will be spent in P.E.I.”
While the P.E.I. ride typically sees 125-200 motorcyclists, Saturday’s rain had dwindled down the turnout.
However, that didn’t stop the dollars from rolling in, including a top pledge of more than $3,000.
“We’re dedicated people in this group that really believe in this cause,” said McKinlay-Key.
Saturday’s convoy departed from Red Rock Harley Davidson in North River to Stratford, then back through Charlottetown and out to Crapaud.
From there, the group took the highway towards Summerside before turning for Kensington, going through Cavenedish and eventually ending at the Lion’s Club Community Centre in North Rustico.
The day saw speeches before the ride commenced.
West Royalty-Springvale MLA Bush Dumville gave the group credit for continuing the event despite a downpour of rain that picked up just before the group’s departure.
“This is a great cause that I’ve participated in before,” said Dumville, who wanted to participate in Saturday’s ride but also had to attend another function.
“It’s wonderful what you do as bikers. Bikers are known for the number of causes they get behind,” said Dumville, who also pointed to a Canadian Cancer Society statistic that says an estimated 140 men in P.E.I. are diagnosed with the disease every year, about 25 per cent over the national average.
Cornwall deputy mayor Corey Frizzell and Malpeque MP Wayne Easter also both spoke at the event.
The motorcycle Ride for Dad has 45 chapters across Canada, including ATV, snowmobile and watercraft rides, after having originally started from a single ride in Ottawa.
McKinlay-Key, who was originally a sponsor with the event, said the grassroots fundraiser quickly grew to other areas of the province and later country.
“We were working with the Ottawa police association other police associations across Ontario started calling saying ‘why don’t you have one of these here in our community,’ so we started to expand,” he said. “It’s grown phenomenally and now we’re coast-to-coast across Canada, in every single province.”
McKinlay-Key said anyone who missed Saturday’s event but are still wishing to contribute to the ride can do so by pledging a rider or making a direct donation to the cause through www.ridefordad.ca