Nine years ago, Garry Janz asked his friend Charlie Pester, who was suffering from prostate cancer, what his plans were for the evening.
“He said to me, ‘Garry, if someone had told me one year earlier about the PSA (prostate-specific antigen) test,” said Janz, “I wouldn’t be going home this afternoon to arrange my own funeral.’”
Janz didn’t know how to respond, but he knew something needed to be done. Over 4,000 men die every year from prostate cancer, yet over 90 per cent of the time it is treatable if caught early enough.
“More men are diagnosed with prostate cancer than women with breast cancer, or men and women with colorectal cancer or anything else,” he said. “The reason a dozen men die every day from prostate cancer is because men don’t talk about their problems and they don’t get it checked.”
Janz organized the Ride for Dad to raise awareness about it. That first year 80 riders took part in the Ottawa ride. Last year, over 1,600 riders took part in Ottawa alone, and there are now “Rides for Dad” in 20 other cities in Canada.
“We didn’t know how big a ride this was going to be, well we know now how magnanimous it is and how that gospel of Garry’s has grown across the country,” said Celebrity Captain Wayne Rostad.
“No one has to die from prostate cancer, especially after the age of 40, men want to get checked annually, because, when detected early, this is curable cancer.”
This year, they are expecting an even bigger gathering for the May 24 ride through the Ottawa Valley.
Ride co-chair Andy Church said the ride has raised just over $2 million for prostate cancer research and awareness.