One hundred engines slung between two hundred wheels.
That is what the Ride For Dad (RFD) will look like Saturday, June 8, when riders take to their bikes downtown. This is the fourth year for the prostate cancer fundraiser in Whitehorse.
“We had over 100 motorcycles last year,” says Mike Thorpe, a director with RFD Yukon. “We have a 1,000 registered motorcycles in the Yukon, so we know the goal; we know where we want to get to.”
Prostate cancer doesn’t kill at the rates of higher-profile cancers. Typically slow-growing, the disease has a 96 percent survival rate. Incidence, however, is high. One in seven Canadian men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer. But embarrassment and resistance to seeking medical help means many men will not get checked until it’s too late.
“There isn’t a support mechanism in place for men’s health issues like there is for women’s health issues,” says Thorpe. “I’m not saying that ours is more important, but there’s not the same level of awareness. Guys are not as apt to raise the flag and say ‘I have it, I’m fighting it.'”
Thorpe’s grandfather passed away in 1999 after a battle with prostate cancer, partly due to the ethos that demands men suffer in silence. But since Ride For Dad began in Whitehorse, he has seen more men willing to share their experience.
“For people to be able to say ‘I’m a prostate cancer survivor, or my uncle was, or my dad was,’ it gives people an opportunity to share their stories,” he says. “We’ve got a couple people coming to this event that we’re going to recognize as survivors. We want them to see the people who are coming out to help fight a battle that they fought largely alone.”
As the event becomes a yearly fixture and not just a one-off, the challenges involved in organizing it have shifted for the RFD board. With the basic infrastructure in place, they have focussed on making it fun, and creating incentives for riders and pledge-gatherers. To that end they have signed a three-year agreement with Air North to provide round trip tickets to Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton or Kelowna.
“Last year the top earner was over $3,000 in pledges,” Thorpe says. “If the average person pledged $30, that’s a 100 times that he’s got to go ask. That’s a lot of effort, and we want to recognize and reward that.”
Improving the Ride has also been about filling in the details as the events expands.
“For example, we just wanted to make sure last year that we had food available – and then we’re all there standing, eating the food going ‘Oh, there’s nowhere to sit down,'” Thorpe says. “So this year Bridges Café comes on board through Challenge, to take that aspect of it on and do a sit-down dinner. We’re trying to make it a fun event. We’re trying to make it so people want to come to it, so they put it on their calendar. Motorcycles are a mechanism to build the awareness, to build that recognition of what we do.”
Ride For Dad will be held Saturday, June 8,with pre-registration on June 7 at Whitehorse Motors. For more information, or to find out how you can get involved, please visit the Ride For Dad Facebook page, Ride For Dad Yukon.