by Lindsay Ducharme
What better way to show your father you care this Father’s Day than by taking an interest in their health by supporting the second annual TELUS Ride for Dad on June 20th. TELUS Ride for Dad is a national initiative that brings together local biking enthusiasts in the name of prostate cancer awareness and fundraising
“It’s kind of fitting to have Ride for Dad close to Father’s Day because it’s geared towards the important men in our lives,” explained Rob Sheppard, co-chair and founding member of Fort McMurray TELUS Ride for Dad.
“There’s always so much publicity surrounding breast cancer because we all love our moms and we all love our wives. We all love our dads and husbands as well, but prostate cancer has never been in the forefront and that’s where we are trying to bring it with this event,” he continued.
Although TELUS Ride for Dad is celebrating only its second anniversary locally, the event has been taking place, in a variety of forms, across the country for the past 15 years. Sheppard said that there are currently over 47 rides nationally including motorcycles, watercrafts, snowmobiles, and ATV’s, with motorcycle rides remaining the largest in size. Participants in this year’s local event will ride from Fort McMurray to Conklin and back again, completing poker hands along the way.
In Fort McMurray’s inaugural season, the TELUS Ride for Dad had an impressive 66 registered riders who brought in over $30,000 in funds for prostate cancer research and awareness. While last year’s result exceeded Sheppard’s expectations, he is certain this year will be no different.
“Last year started off as a grey, drizzly morning, a little damp, but by the time we hit highway 881 the sun had come through and it turned out to be a beautiful day. Our national office was extremely pleased with that amount for our first time out,” he noted.
“This year we are hoping to have 80 plus riders and hopefully raise $50,000, which would be a milestone for us and a really good way of solidifying ourselves here in Fort McMurray.”
Sheppard’s lofty goals for the local ride stem him his unwavering belief in the community. In fact, while participating in his very first TELUS Ride for Dad event in Edmonton in 2012, Sheppard had already began making plans to bring the event home to Fort McMurray.
“After being involved there and seeing so many bikes, because they had around 1400 bikes, it was a real heart-warming experience to see everybody come out and fight such an important cause. Prostate cancer is the number one diagnosed cancer in men today; one in seven men will be affected by it in their lifetime. It’s something I thought would go over well in fort McMurray and I thought we could do a lot of good with it and so far we have.”
Those interested in participating in 2015 Fort McMurray TELUS Ride for Dad can do so by registering online at ridefordad.ca. In addition, event organizers will be accepting pre-registrations at Holy Trinity Catholic High School, which will serve as a starting point for the ride, on Friday, June 19th from 5:00-8:00 p.m., as well 7:30- 9:45 a.m. on June 20th, before riders hit the road at 10 a.m.
There is a $30 registration fee for all registered riders, however, participants who collect more than $100 in pledges will have the opportunity to get their registration fee back, or put it forward as a donation.
All proceeds raised in the Fort McMurray TELUS Ride for Dad will go directly to prostate cancer research and awareness campaigns locally. Sheppard explained that since Fort McMurray does not have its own research facility, the research portion of the funds will be directed to the closest research facility located in Edmonton. “The awareness campaign portion will stay within our community and this year we can expect a big campaign. The main thing about prostate cancer is to get checked because if you can get checked early enough it can be caught and treated successfully.”
For more information on Fort McMurray TELUS Ride for Dad, including event schedule, registration and volunteer sign up visit the website www.ridefordad.ca.