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2014-06-14 at 16:00

Riding for a cause

By Matt Vis,
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THUNDER BAY -- Shawn Wright knows prostate health is something he is going to have to take seriously.

“I’m getting up there. I turn 39 tomorrow and I’m not getting any younger,” he said. “It’s something I have to keep an eye out for.”

Wright, who was joined by daughter Summer, was one of about 300 bikers aboard motorcycles participating in the Bell Motorcycle Ride for Dad on Saturday.

The ride, which is in its 14th year, has raised $725,000 for prostate health. Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Foundation president and CEO Glenn Craig expects this year to bump the total up to around $800,000.

The funds raised are earmarked specifically for prostate cancer through the foundation’s Exceptional Cancer Care campaign.

Motorcyclists across the city have made the event the success that it is, enjoying a ride on what is usually one of the first summer Saturdays of the year. The cold, dreary weather this year was an exception.

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“The biker community in Thunder Bay has really embraced this cause,” Craig said. “When we approached them with this idea 14 or 15 years ago they were looking for something to get behind and raise their profile in the community and let them know the bikers are here to help build the community.”

In addition to the funds, the awareness that comes along as a result of the ride is just as important.

Like most cancers, the rate of success in treating it is much higher when it is in the early stages.

“We really need to catch this disease early because, if caught early, it is extremely treatable with very high survivorship,” Craig said.

“That awareness, that early screening and early detection really make all the difference.”

The ride is always held the day before Fathers’ Day, a symbolic reminder of the importance of men’s health. Wright said that prostate cancer is becoming to men what breast cancer is to women.

That was part of the reason he was participating in the ride for the first time. He said riding is one of his favourite father-daughter activities, with Summer always just as excited as he is to get on the bike.

Regular prostate exams and other tests are necessary to ensure he is able to share more special moments with Summer.

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