Holy Replica! Andrew “Batman” Goodwin’s 1966 Batmobile, built on a 1978 Lincoln Continental chassis. Goodwin was Batman TV star Adam West's booking agent for decades, and has resided in Niagara since the early '90s. DON RICKERS

Motorcyclists roared through Niagara on Father’s Day weekend Ride For Dad

It was “rolling thunder” on the roadways of Niagara on Saturday, June 18, as 136 motorcycle enthusiasts drove some 150 kilometres in the Ride For Dad, to raise money and awareness for prostate cancer research.

The ride is traditionally held on the Saturday of Father’s Day weekend, said event co-chair Matt King. Established in 2010, the local ride has raised more than $600,000, with proceeds funding prostate cancer research, as well as public awareness campaigns that promote the importance of early detection.

During the pandemic, the last two rides were small-scale, ride alone or in small group events, said King, who noted that Canadian Cancer Society statistics indicate that one in eight males in Canada will be diagnosed with prostate cancer this year, and 4,600 men will succumb to the disease.

Prostate cancer is curable if caught early, so awareness is essential,” he said.

This year’s celebrity ride captain for the event was Dr. Evangelia Litsa Tsiani, of the Department of Health Sciences at Brock University, who has established collaborations with Dr. Theo Tsakiridis and Dr. Ian Brown at the Walker Family Cancer Centre in St. Catharines. All three are leaders in prostate cancer research in Niagara.

Pelham’s Pierre Garneau left, was the top fundraiser for the ride, and received a plaque from event organizer Matt King. SUPPLIED

Another leader is Dr. Abhi Hallock, who heads the Radiation Oncology Department at the Walker Centre. She receives grant money from the Ride For Dad – Niagara Chapter to study new techniques in reducing side effects after prostate cancer treatment, and conducts research investigating plant-based therapies targeting cancer cells.

The five-hour, police-escorted ride began at the Legion Hall, Branch 124 on King Street in Niagara-on-the-Lake, weaving along the Niagara Parkway to Niagara Falls, then turning west and proceeding through Welland and Pelham, before finishing at Club Italia in Niagara Falls, where a pasta supper and award presentations took place. The Niagara Regional Police Association also provided a hamburger lunch.

The event included a “poker run,” in which riders collected cards for the best poker hand at stops along the tour route.

“The final fundraising count is north of $54,000, more than $22,000 better than our previous best,” said King. “To date, the nationwide Ride For Dad fight against prostate cancer has raised over $37 million.”

King voiced appreciation to all the riders and corporate sponsors, and as well as the many volunteers who at helped out during the day.

A special treat for the riders was the inclusion of Ken “Archie” Moore’s 1932 Ford Coupe hot rod in the procession, along with Andrew “Batman“ Goodwin’s 1966 Batmobile.

The top money-earner was Pierre Garneau of Fonthill, who single-handedly raised over $13,000. He has been the top fundraiser since 2015, and personally has brought in almost $80,000 to date.

“We had a great day of weather,” said Garneau, a retired Air Canada pilot. “It was a bit windy, but the sun was shining the entire day. The Ride For Dad is how fundraisers should work. I would add that I will treasure the 3D plaque I received, which was skillfully made by former NRPS officer and founding member of the Ride, Joe Maggiolo, in his home workshop. It’s a great cause, and I hope to be participating in the Ride for Dad for many years to come.”

MPP Wayne Gates was on hand prior to kickstands-up, and asked the crowd to support his bill in the legislature which would make PSA (prostate-specific antigen) tests, a screening process for prostate cancer, covered by OHIP.

Next year’s ride is slated for June 17, 2023. Donations may be made online at RideForDad.ca/Niagara