Recovering from prostate cancer surgery in 2013, Vernon’s Murray Neilson couldn’t participate in the Do It For Dad Run and Walk.
Neilson was at the start line Sunday to walk three kilometres in the 15th annual event at Coldstream Ranch, presented by Interior Savings Credit Union, which raised $33,372 for prostate cancer treatment and awareness throughout the North Okanagan.
“I’ve been monitoring my PSA (prostate-specific antigen) for 14 years and it was steadily going up and up,” said Neilson, a former Tolko employee.
“They did a biopsy, I had cancer. I elected to have it removed, it was successful and I’m as happy as I can be.”
Neilson was joined for the walk by his wife, Laura, and friend Fred Ziemer.
“It’s my first time and it’s important for me to take part, that’s why I’m here,” said Neilson.
“I’m happy to see all of the people here supporting the event. I go to the (Vernon Prostate Cancer Support and Awareness) support group as often as I can. They’re a great group of guys.”
More than 300 participants, volunteers and sponsors took part in Sunday’s event, including Rose Ryan, visiting from Ponoka, Alta. where she sells products such as rhinestone jackets and western bling at area farmers’ markets.
Ryan was recruited by her friend, Barb Dyck.
“She phoned me, said ‘we’re doing this walk’, be here,” laughed Ryan.
“I think this event is awesome. It’s a very good thing.”
For Dyck, an employee at the Lumby Health Centre, the event is dear to everyone she works with.
“We utilize the vouchers for prostate cancer screening so this has inspired me to take part,” said Dyck.
“It’s my first time and I wanted to get involved.”
The top individual fundraiser was longtime participant Marnie MacKenzie, who collected a total of $3,065 in pledges.
The top fundraising team was Doreen’s T-Bags, who raised $5,100 in pledges in memory of last year’s individual fundraising winner, Doreen Hourie, who died in February.
Funds raised stay locally in the North Okanagan communities.
It was a family affair with this year’s race winners.
Liam McGrath took first place in the men’s category. Tyler Rogers took second place, while Mike McGrath, Liam’s father, placed third overall.
Of the female participants, a mother and daughter took the top two placements in the race.
First place went to Bethany Proce, with her mother, Linda Proce, taking second place, while Suzanne Larose came in third.
This year, funds raised from the ‘Do It For Dad Run/Walk’ will provide free prostate-specific antigen (PSA) tests for North Okanagan men, as well as help purchase a ureteroscope for the treatment of prostate cancer at Vernon Jubilee Hospital.
“Every year we enlist the help of more than 40 volunteers, 12 event sponsors, 30 prize and entertainment sponsors and more than 300 participants, to make this happen for men in our community,” said Sue Beaudry, director of development for the Vernon Jubilee Hospital Foundation.
“And every year, they do us proud.”
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among Canadian men, (excluding non-melanoma skin cancers) and is the third leading cause of death from cancer in men in Canada.
Since inception, the Do It For Dad’Run/Walk has raised more than $321,000 for prostate cancer treatment and awareness in the North Okanagan.