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Dapper motorcyclists raise nearly $150K for men’s health in Toronto ride

More than 500 dapperly dressed motorcyclists hit the streets in downtown Toronto Sunday as part of a global fundraiser to raise awareness for prostate cancer and men’s mental health. 

The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride is an annual classic and vintage themed ride for motorcyclists of all genders. Sunday marks the 13th annual ride in Toronto, organizers said. 

Starting in Sydney, Australia in 2012, the initiative has since spread to more than 100 countries, the ride’s website says. 

Participants are encouraged to “dress to the nines [and] come looking good,” said Shane DeMerchant, community manager for men’s health charity Movember Canada, which is a partner of the ride. 

850 rides took place across the world on Sunday in more than 100 countries, DeMerchant says, including 31 rides in Canada alone. 

Toronto’s ride has the most participants in Canada, with motorcyclists raising nearly $150,000 as of Sunday afternoon, according to a tracker on the ride’s website. 

“Events like this, on top of raising funds for men’s health programming, also help to generate conversation and make some of the tricky conversations for guys a little bit easier to have,” DeMerchant said. 

Photograph of a man in a suit, with sunglasses and a beard.
Michael Boucher, who has participated in the ride for 5 years, said awareness events about men’s health can make “tricky conversations for guys a little bit easier to have.” (Spencer Gallichan-Lowe/CBC News)

Ride ‘detracts stigma,’ participant says

Over the past five years, rider Michael Boucher has helped raise about $7,000 by participating in the Dapper Gentleman’s Ride. Men have historically been pressured to not speak up about mental health and physical issues, he says.

“The more we can do this and raise that kind of awareness, it detracts the stigma,” Boucher said. 

Motorcyclist Jacquie Jeffery, who first participated in the ride during the COVID-19 pandemic, said she had a family member who struggled with mental illness. 

“Most men hide a lot of what they’re going through,” Jeffrey said. “For me, it was very close to my heart.” 

“And I like to get dressed up a little bit, so the two things really played well hand-in-hand,” she added.

Photograph showing a woman and top hat talking into a microphone.
Motorcyclist Jacquie Jeffery, who first participated in the ride during COVID-19, said the initiative is very close to her heart, as she had a family member who struggled with mental illness. (Spencer Gallichan-Lowe/CBC News)

For new motorcyclist Srikesh Rudrapatna, this year marks his first time participating in the event. On top of raising awareness for men’s health, the ride also presents a unique opportunity to meet other motorcyclists in the city, he said. 

“It’s a nice passion to have,” Rudrapatna said. “It brings people together.” 

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