Kelowna’s Bill Sirman thought he was going to a meeting about planning for this year’s Telus Motorcycle Ride For Dad, the city’s major annual fundraiser to help fight prostate cancer.
What he didn’t know was his wife, friends and fellow volunteers were on hand to see him receive the ride’s top national honour, the President’s Award, which goes to the organization’s man or woman of the year.
“I’m just amazed,” said Sirman after being presented with the award in Kelowna Wednesday night. The award is usually given out at the national organization’s annual general meeting, but this year, with no AGM was held and the decision was made to give Sirman his award in his hometown.
“While you never do this for the recognition, it’s so nice to be recognized. I’m very proud to do this (volunteer work for the ride),” he added
Sirman, 73, was part of the group that founded the ride in Ottawa in 1980. Back then, he and a group of motorcycling friends went on a trip to see a sick friend, and one of the group met a man who was dying of prostate cancer. The group got talking about what they could do to help and the decision was made to hold a motorcycle ride to raise money to help fun research and educate the public about prostate cancer.
The first ride, in the nation’s capital, was a small one that drew 80 riders and raised $16,000.
After a few years and few more rides in Ottawa, other communities caught wind of what was happening and chapters of the Motorcycle Ride For Dad started to spring up across the country.
There are now 49 chapters across Canada and last year’s Kelowna ride attracted 472 riders from throughout the B.C. Interior. The amount raised in 2016 has not yet been released, but in 2015 the ride here raised $40,000 for research and another $22,000 for education. In total, since 1999, a total of $200,000 has been raised for research by the Okanagan ride and another $60,000 for education.
Sirman moved to Kelowna in 1999, just as the Okanagan chapter was starting and his knowledge of the ride and his experience organizing an annual ride was immediately sought. Since then, he has been a tireless volunteer and organizer, a man well-deserving of the President’s Award said his friend and fellow co-chairman of the Okanagan chapter Bob Charron, who presented an emotional Sirman with his award. Charron noted Sirman also volunteers with Bibles for Missions and Shoebank Canada.
This year’s Telus Mortorcycle Ride For Dad in Kelowna will go June 11.