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Commissionaires Donate $500 for Prostate Cancer Research

April 24, 2023

It’s always inspiring. It happens every year, on a June Saturday morning, the week before Fathers’ Day. Three hundred and sixty motorcycles of all varieties: Harleys, Triumphs, Hondas, Yamahas and more, gathered at Blackjacks Roadhouse in Nisku for a common cause, answering in roaring unison to the command, “Riders!  Start ‘em up!”

That was the 2022 Edmonton Motorcycle Ride For Dad, a motorcycle trip that would raise, in one day, over $108,000 for Prostate Cancer Research, Awareness and Education.

“It always gives me an emotional shiver,” says Cmre John Breen, who will ‘Ride For Dad’ for the eleventh time on the 10th of June. “The anticipation, the sense of purpose, and the emotion fed by the sound of so many bikes is overwhelming.”

The mission of Motorcycle Ride for Dad (MRFD) is to raise funds to save men’s lives by supporting Prostate Cancer research and raising public awareness of the disease. With over 30 rides in various cities from sea to sea to sea, the national goal is for men to continue to be there for their families and friends for years to come.

In his first ten Ride For Dad events, John has raised over $20,800 through donations and sponsorships for his ride.  In 2016, he became a member of the organizing committee.

“My Grandfather died from prostate cancer in 1973. In those days, no one spoke much about cancer, let alone prostate cancer. But, as a young man, I saw first-hand how he was affected, and  I saw an opportunity to remember my grandfather, honour his memory and support friends who are afflicted, while at the same time doing something about the disease.”

Statistically, one in eight men will experience prostate cancer. At any given time in Canada there are one million men (about 7% of the adult male population) who have prostate cancer. About 800,000 men do not know it because they have never been checked or tested.

“I was fortunate to require a blood test for my Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) from age 45, as part of my annual physical as an air traffic controller and commercial pilot, so I never developed the sense of embarrassment or fear of a blood test, or being poked for an exam. I just did it,” says John. “One of my best friends left his doctor when she told him that his next physical would include a prostate-check. Sadly, he wasn’t checked until the disease forced it upon him. His prostate was removed, but the cancer lingered and we lost him.”

Part of the motivation to participate in Ride for Dad is that 100% of riders’ donations go directly to local research, education and awareness. The administration of the ride is supported 100% by corporate donations.

“The success of  Ride For Dad is volunteer-driven,” says John. “Every cent of the money raised by motorcyclists stays in the community where it is donated. I have visited the research lab here in Edmonton and seen our funding at work. I like that!”

The Edmonton Ride For Dad, now in its 17th year, has provided close to 4 million dollars toward research and education. The great charitable generosity of Edmonton motorcycle enthusiasts supports a dynamic team of specialists at the U of A, at the Alberta Prostate Cancer Research Initiative where leading-edge research is being conducted. A new diagnostic blood test that greatly reduces the number of  prescribed biopsies will be available this year.

The Division is proud to support Ride for Dad, through John’s ride, with a donation. To return the favour, John offers some simple, yet life-saving advice, “Get checked!”