Haris Aziz is a professional chartered accountant and a sharp dresser.
But this September, he and several others will don their finest sartorial possessions as they take part in the first Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride (DGR) in Pakistan. The DGR is a unique event that helps raise awareness and funds for prostate cancer research around the world. Dawn spoke to Mr Aziz about his passion and how he came to bring the ride to Pakistan.
Q: What is the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride?
A: DGR is a global event, held on the last Sunday of September, which aims to raise funds for prostate cancer research and spread awareness about men’s health issues. The event takes place in over 400 cities across all five continents and involves over 15,000 owners of classic motorcycles taking to the streets, dressed as gentlemen from the days of yore.
The ride raises funds for five different prostate cancer foundations worldwide and participants can get their friends and family to sponsor them. Last year, the rides raised $1.5 million and this year, they are looking to double that.
Although participating in the event is completely free, donations can be made voluntarily by the rider, his friends and family or generous anonymous benefactors.
|Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride takes place in over 400 cities across all five continents. —Photo Courtesy: DGR Facebook page|
Q: How did you come to know about the rides and why did you think of bringing the event to Pakistan?
A: I heard about the DGR last year. I felt strongly about the cause because a close relative of mine lost a battle with prostate cancer a couple of years ago. Unfortunately for them, the cancer was detected at a stage when all one could do was wait for the inevitable. Knowing that there was a disease out there that every man had a 1-in-5 chance of contracting spurred me to do something about it. The ride was the perfect embodiment of my drive.
One thing that sets the DGR apart from cancer-awareness programmes is that they raise funds for research, which is a future-oriented approach and seeks to find a solution, not just address the effects of prostate cancer.
I couldn’t sign Pakistan up for the ride last year but I made sure that the DGR would come to Pakistan in 2015. We’ve successfully managed to sign Islamabad, Karachi and Lahore for this year.
Q: Has something like this been attempted in Pakistan before? How can interested parties sign up?
A: This is the first time DGR is formally coming to Pakistan, and even though we are no strangers to the classic bike community, this is a first in terms of cancer research. It is also the first time that an event of this sort is taking place simultaneously across three major cities.
The response has been good so far and nearly 100 gentlemen from across the country have registered for the ride, scheduled for Sept 27.
Donations can be made online as well, and the website www.gentlemansride.com provides all prospective donors and participants with all the information they need.
The DGR is a themed ride for classic motorcycles including café racers, scramblers, trackers, bobbers, classic scooters, choppers and other undefinable motorcycles of the yesteryears. People in possession of such motorcycles can still register online.
Published in Dawn, September 3rd, 2015