Motorcycle Ride for Dad 2017

Participants roll out during the 2017 Motorcycle Ride for Dad, in support of prostate cancer research, education and care in Northwestern Ontario. (Submitted)

Prostate cancer research, care and education in Northwestern Ontario got a big boost this weekend.

The 17th annual Motorcycle Ride for Dad took place on the streets of Thunder Bay on Saturday — the day before Father's Day — and raised more than $50,000 for the Northern Cancer Fund.

That brings the event's 17-year fundraising total to more than $1 million dollars, organizers said in a media release issued Sunday.

But, organizers say, the ride isn't just about money; the awareness it raises is vital to fighting prostate cancer, as well.

"I think our community can be very proud of the fact that they've supported this event for such a long time, and not only monetarily," said Heather Vita, director of marketing and communications with the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Foundation.

"I think this event goes way beyond that in the fact that it's really had men feel more comfortable discussing their health, and in particular, prostate cancer. It was really a subject that wasn't widely-discussed before."

This year's ride included a motorcycle parade and poker run around Thunder Bay. The top pledge-getter was John Pascuzzo, who raised about $3,500.

In total, participants raised just over $23,000 this year. The remainder of the fundraising total came from sponsors, as well as other sources like registration fees or a penny auction held at the event, Vita said.

"It's a very successful event," she said. "Any time that we have people that are coming out and supporting the cause, we consider that a success."

"And certainly, with the amount of people who raised pledges in support of this, it's a wonderful testament to how much people believe in what's going on."