A Ride for Dad

By Joel Charron

It may have been hot and steamy this past weekend but it was nothing but cool sailing for the participants in the inaugural Watercraft Ride for Dad fundraiser.

Ranta Marina was the ground Zero for any and all watercraft enthusiasts to enjoy a fun day on the water and raise money for the fight against prostate cancer all at the same time.

Edward Jones financial advisor Steven Kidd was the one who brought the idea of a watercraft version to the national board in Ottawa.

On Sunday, Ride for Dad founders Garry Janz and Byron Smith were on hand for the momentous occasion.

“This is a tremendous opportunity to expand our fight against prostate cancer,” said Janz. “This is a whole new world of people  who are affected by prostate cancer that we had not been reaching. We are so excited about what Steve has done here.”

The Watercraft Ride for Dad attracted roughly 50 panticipants with 40 machines on the water.

“Wow, what a day,” said Kidd. “This is truly spectacular, I’m  very pleased that we had this many people attend in our first year.”

Janz and Smith both admit, after hosting hundreds of Ride for Dad events with motorcycle and snowmobiles, it never crossed their minds to host a watercraft version of their highly successful fundraiser.

“Frankly this isn’t a world I know much about,” explained Smith. “It certainly opened our eyes. Now that we are meeting the jet skiers they are very much like motorcycle riders. They love their hobby and love to do something for a good cause.”

In 2000, Janz and Smith hosted the first Ride for Dad in Ottawa as a motorcycle event. The ride was only to be a one-time local event, however once the two began receiving phone calls from cancer centers and dignitaries asking them to host Ride For Dad events in their city the idea flourished.

“We expanded by two or three cities a year,” said Janz. “Right now we are in 30 cities across the country in every province.”

Janz said that 12 men each day die of prostate cancer.  Although the main goal is to find a cure for this silent killer, educating the public is also key.

“If detected early there is a better than 90 per cent success rate in treating prostate cancer,” said Smith. “You can’t detect it early if you don’t get it checked.”

The ride left Ranta Marina at 12:30 p.m. and headed up through LaSalle to the north tip of Fighting Island then looped back around and headed down the channel near Bob-lo. Riders stopped at the backside of Bob-lo for a break. From there the route headed out around the south tip of Bob-lo and made their way back to Ranta Marina for a barbecue.

Prostate Cancer survivor, Larry Burgess said he jumped right on board with the cause.

Burgess, who plays in a senior hockey league, said 16 of the players he knows have been diagnosed with prostate cancer.

“That’s 16 guys out of 100 over 20 years. The number starts to add up,” said Burgess. “Men talk about it a lot more than they used to. We help each other by talking about our experiences and what kind of treatment and how it worked out.”

“It kind of becomes like a little club that you don’t want to be in but you don’t have much choice,” he continued.

Burgess said he heard about the event through Kidd, who happens to be his neighbor.

“I thought it would be an interesting thing to do. Hopefully what we are doing here and the other rides that my son won’t have to go through that.”

Kidd said over $1,000 in door prizes were given away, including a barbecue, which was donated by local real estate agent, Chris MacLeod. He also added that he was very impressed by the local businesses that “stepped up” and donated items.

Kidd also added after the success of the inaugural Watercraft Ride For Dad the event would become an annual event.

“People were asking me if it was going to be the same weekend next year,” he said. “Next year will be twice as big.”

Kidd praised all the volunteers who helped out and extended a “big” thank you to the Amherstburg Police and the Canadian Coast Guard for their aid on the water.

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