Casino supports Ride for Dad

Through its Casino Rama Cares program, Casino Rama recently presented a cheque for $5,000 to the Huronia Motorcycle Ride for Dad, which will roar into the area May 24. Jenna Hunter, left, the casino’s director of public relations, and Natasha Ilic, public relations co-ordinator, far right, present the cheque to Ride for Dad officials, from left, Bill Hobson, Colin Wackett and Luc Bouillon. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)

The Huronia Motorcycle Ride for Dad will rumble through Orillia May 24. The event is one of the most successful of its kind in the country — welcome news for men far and wide.

“One in seven Canadian men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer,” said Colin Wackett, the driving force behind the local fundraising event. “On average, approximately 500 men across Canada are diagnosed with prostate cancer each week. About 100 men will die in Canada every week from prostate cancer.”

The numbers are staggering.

“It is the No. 1 diagnosed cancer in men and matches or exceeds breast cancer,” said Wackett.

But there’s good news lurking beneath those grim statistics. If it’s discovered early enough, prostate cancer is preventable and treatable. The problem, however, is the scourge of denial and the reluctance to seek medical advice that plague many men and prevent them from getting screened.

That’s why the Ride for Dad is so important, said Wackett, who noted the ride not only raises much-needed funds — it’s estimated that by the end of this year’s 10th annual event, the local ride will have raised $1 million — it also helps raise something just as important: awareness.

“We know that men aren’t very good at taking care of themselves, so this is a way to talk about just how important that is,” said Wackett.

He said the event is successful thanks to the tireless efforts of volunteers, motorcyclists who participate and obtain pledges from donors and the unwavering support of local civic-minded businesses that sponsor the annual ride.

This year, Casino Rama has increased its support, providing $5,000 through its new Casino Rama Cares program.

“One of the reasons we support the Huronia Motorcycle Ride for Dad is not only is it very well organized and focused; it’s because we know this event can help save lives,” said Jenna Hunter, the casino’s director of public relations. “It can help men learn about prostate cancer, about how important it is to get tested … We are grateful for the opportunity to help.”

Wackett, who is grateful for the support, said evidence shows the help is paying off. Bolstered by funds from the local ride, Dr. Andrew Loblaw, a prostate cancer specialist at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto, has revolutionized treatment of the cancer.

In the past, men with prostate cancer had to endure a lengthy regimen of radiation treatments. Through research, Loblaw discovered higher doses of radiation could be used to target prostate cancer, and that means fewer treatments.

“They’ve reduced the number of treatments from 38 to five,” said Wackett, who noted the Orillia ride is tops in Canada, providing 11 research grants to Sunnybrook over 10 years. “That is fantastic news. It means fewer trips to the hospital, less money spent on parking and meals, less side-effects. It’s an incredible advance.”

Based on those results, proceeds from the Ride for Dad will underwrite the largest-ever clinical trial related to prostate cancer in the hopes Loblaw's results will be confirmed. If that happens, his protocol would become the standard of care.

“This would revolutionize treatment of prostate cancer,” said Hunter. “This would be so beneficial to patients. Mentally, to have to deal with fewer treatments would be so important. It’s amazing to see how events like the Ride for Dad can make such a huge impact.”

The casino and its employees have supported important events like the Ride for Dad since Day 1. Over two decades, its community outreach program has evolved into Casino Rama Cares.

“Casino Rama is dedicated to continuing its rich history of community support by being a good corporate citizen, providing year-round support through a combination of charitable giving and employee volunteerism,” said Hunter.

She said the mandate of Casino Rama Cares is to improve the quality of life for Simcoe County residents by making contributions to social responsibility initiatives related to responsible gambling; local health and education projects; First Nations projects that support health, education and employment opportunities; local tourism-based associations such as chambers of commerce and Ontario’s Lake Country; and sponsorship and participation at local festivals and events and with local charitable organizations.

“We made a commitment to support the community before the shovels even went into the ground,” said Hunter, who noted its 2,500 employees are involved in countless initiatives and will lend a hand volunteering at the Ride for Dad. “The program is now within the public relations department and we’re excited to be part of something that is so important to so many organizations.”

She said a website was recently created to help people access the program with an online application process that is easy to access.

For more information, visit

Source: Orillia Packet

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