A group of dapper-looking motorcyclists made their way through Greater Victoria on Saturday as part of the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride.
The motorcycle ride is part of a world-wide charity event that raises funds for the Movember Foundation, a charity that invests in research into prostate cancer, testicular cancer and mental health and suicide prevention. The foundation also raises awareness about those issues, bringing them into conversation and breaking down barriers for men.
Bob Mitchell, one of the organizers of the event in Victoria, said prostate cancer affects one in eight men worldwide. Over half a million men commit suicide every year worldwide as well. The aim for the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride (DGR) is to not only raise money for these causes but to reduce the suicide rate by 25 per cent by the year 2030.
“Men bottle things up too much and don’t talk about it so the DGR is trying to crack that a little bit so men will talk about it more,” Mitchell said.
Mitchell has personally been affected by depression, having suffered from it many years ago. He has also lost people who were close to him to both mental illness and prostate cancer.
“I was just down in the dumps, I couldn’t get out of it,” Mitchell said about his depression. “When I found out what (the DGR) was doing, it really triggered something in me…I thought I want to be part of that because it feels food, not to mention this is fun.”
Mitchell’s friend Brian Leah – who is also one of the organizers of the Victoria ride – helped pull Mitchell out of his depression. Leah said he participates in the ride because it touches him personally as well.
“My brother died just under a year ago from prostate cancer and the problems that came with it,” Leah said. “Part of that was the mental health aspect.”
The ride started in Sydney, Australia thanks to a man named Mark Hawwa. He was inspired by a photo of the television show Mad Men in which the dapper Don Draper is on top of a classic bike. Hawwa decided the themed ride could fill a niche for motorcycle enthusiasts while raising funds for a good cause.
This year, there will be over 120,000 riders around the world in over 100 countries and 668 cities riding on the same day.
So far this year, the event has raised $4.6 million US dollars but the aim is to reach $7 million. Last year, the event raised $6.2 million.
On Saturday, motorcyclists started the ride in Langford, drove over the Johnson Street Bridge and eventually ended up at the steps of the B.C. Parliament Buildings.
Mitchell said the ride keeps growing in Victoria, and the organizers are hoping to have 100 motorcyclists participating in it eventually. They are looking to involve local motorcycle groups – regardless of gender – in the future.
“I am just so thrilled to be a part of it,” Mitchell said. “I feel like I’m part of something that’s really important.”
Those interested in donating to the cause can visit www.gentlemansride.com/