Vernon’s Duncan Hossay

Vernon’s Duncan Hossay

On the road to fight cancer

Duncan Hossay defines the word “drive.”

When not sitting behind the wheel of his 1958 Austin-Healey “Bug-eye” Sprite convertible, the Vernon resident can be found at his office in Kelowna leading the charge as the chairman and founder of Wheels for a Cure.

The tour, which starts in Kelowna Thursday and comes through the North Okanagan Friday and Saturday, combines two things close to Hossay’s heart: vintage cars and finding a cure for cancer.

Pointing to a noticeable bump on his head, Hossay was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour three years ago.

“It’s about the size of a plum right now and I get it checked regularly to see if it is growing,” he said, adding that his father survived prostate cancer five years ago, and more recently was diagnosed with bone marrow cancer.

“This will be a way I can honour my dad, and a way for me to give back.”

In fact, Hossay’s father is coming all the way from Vegreville, Alta. to be part of the event.

“The will be the last time he will be able to drive the ‘58 (Austin-Healey.) We flipped a coin, and I lost, so I will be at the indoor venue in West Kelowna while he’s driving up the valley.”

For three days, Okanagan area residents, and some unnamed celebrities (Hossay says there will be a few from the sporting world, plus some others) will drive their motorized vehicles –– cars, motorcycles and trucks –– to raise money for the Canadian Cancer Society.

“There will be a limit of 150 vehicles of all types, both dealer new models and some collectibles, and all are on the road to raise money for the cancer society.”

Hossay came up with the idea late last year, then calling in the Tour for the Cure before realizing  that an event of that name already exists in the U.S.

“I wanted to make this totally different from other car shows,” he said. “We needed to attract people to come out by making it free for those who enjoy cars, and their families to have some fun,” he said. “We came up with a small mini carnival.”

Hossay gathered a team and started knocking on doors throughout the valley. The support they received even before the event hit the road exceeded all expectations.

“We have already received in kind cash donation of $135,000 to put on the event from various businesses with 95 per cent of everything collected going to the Canadian Cancer Society,” said Hossay, adding major sponsors came on board with donations from $5,000 to $20,000 and also donated space, food and other amenities.

“It just sort of snowballed with people asking what they wanted from us and how they could help the event.”

And the future looks bright, with hopes to start the event in Vernon next year, said Hossay.

“Our team has been awesome. I couldn’t have put this on without everyone’s help.”

Donations by the public can also be made at each stop along the tour, where they can enter for draw prizes.

The event starts with a wine and cheese celebration and registration Thursday evening at the Comfort Suites in Kelowna.

The tour heads north Friday morning along Westside Road, towards Highway 97, before heading along the back way to Armstrong, along St. Anne and Otter Lake Roads, before stopping for a lunch at the Village Cheese Company parking lot at 11:30  a.m.

The tour ends that day with a show and shine at the 4 Seasons RV and Boat Storage in West Kelowna, and a mix and mingle that evening at the Kelowna’s Elk’s Lodge.

The tour resumes Saturday with a pancake breakfast and a show ‘n’ shine at 4 Seasons, before making its way to the Vernon Square Mall, in front of the BCAA, at 12:30 p.m.

The tour resumes in the South Okanagan Sunday.

To find out more about the route and events, or to register to partake in the tour, visit www.wheelsforacure.ca.