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Riding for a cause

Several Pakistani celebrities participate in the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride (DGR), a global campaign that raises funds for prostate cancer and men’s mental health on September 30 every year. Here’

Riding for a cause
Inspired by a photo of Mad Men’s Don Draper on a classic bike and wearing his finest suit, it was decided a themed ride would be a great way to bring together the classic & vintage styled motorcycle community.

Several Pakistani celebrities participate in the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride (DGR), a global campaign that raises funds for prostate cancer and men’s mental health on September 30 every year. Here’s to heavy bikes and health…

 

Supporting an important cause, The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride (DGR) takes place every year on September 30 and brings together riders across many cities around the world. This year, on Sunday, September 30, 115,000 riders in 648 cities across 101 countries took part in the activity and played their role in raising funds for prostate cancer and men’s mental health.

The global motorcycle fundraising event that was founded in Sydney, Australia, in 2012 by Mark Hawwa, was inspired by a photo of Mad Men’s Don Draper astride a classic bike and wearing his finest suit. This led to a themed ride the same year, planned by Mark, to combat the generally negative stereotype surrounding men on motorcycles, whilst connecting niche motorcycle communities together.

Open to all genders, the ride has no entry fee while riders are encouraged to raise money for prostate cancer research and male suicide prevention. Around 1 million men lose their lives annually to suicide and prostate cancer (the second most commonly diagnosed cancer in men) and this annual event calls on the community to stop men dying too young. Till date, the DGR has raised over $13M USD for men’s health, with a goal of adding a further $6M USD to the cause throughout the 2018 fundraising campaign.

While this has been a regular event worldwide for six years, Pakistan became a part of it around four years back (2015) when Faisal Malik – organizer of the ride in Karachi and leader of Throttle Shrottle bikers group – was approached by Mark Hawwa to introduce it in Pakistan. Since then, it has gotten “bigger and better every year,” according to Faisal Malik, who informed that Karachi is featured in DGR’s official 2018 global wrap-up video.

“Starting from around 100 motorcyclists in the first year, the number has risen with each year,” Faisal Malik told Instep. “Our prime focus is to raise funds and awareness for prostate cancer and men’s mental health through this, though we don’t generate as much money as DGR is raising worldwide.”

Imran Malik, who owns the popular Harley Store in Karachi, is also a key sponsor of the event in Pakistan. He is the go-to person for the purchase of Harley Davidson bikes and related products such as helmets, jackets while Bike Doctors provide bike cleaning and detailing services prior to these rides. He makes it possible for interested men to rent heavy bikes for the DGR, making the campaign inclusive for those who cannot afford to buy the luxury beasts.

Currently, DGR in Pakistan has three groups based in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad. Several high profile artists including Faysal Quraishi, Aijaz Aslam and others are a part of this initiative and help generate funds for the cause in Pakistan.

Speaking of his association with DGR, Faysal Quraishi, who is essaying the protagonist in ongoing drama serials Baba Jani and Haiwaan, shared that the group comprised hardly 80 people in the first year (2015) but this year there were over 400 riders who took part in the activity in Karachi.

“Almost 400 riders from Karachi, 150-200 from Lahore and 70-80 from Islamabad took part in the ride this time around,” he shared with Instep. “There are a lot of participants, not just the ones who ride Harleys but also those who have vintage bikes, Vespas, etc.”

Aijaz Aslam and Faysal Quraishi

Aijaz Aslam and Faysal Quraishi

“It’s a get-together as well as an awareness drive where men are told how they can take better care of themselves,” he elaborated on the experience. “It’s great to be a part of a cause, to be honest.”

N Gents, Nabila’s popular salon for men’s grooming, also participates in the cause, extending complimentary grooming to the gentlemen of the DGR. It all results in great optics, as can be seen in pictures.

Aijaz Aslam, a Harley rider who is a regular at the annual DGR in Pakistan, informed that though they have been taking part in different bike rides, this one is unique.

“It is not just a ride, it’s more of an event; we dress up formally for this one unlike other rides,” he shared, adding that “he is passionate about biking and DGR provides him an opportunity to ride and raise funds at the same time.”

“We participate in DGR as a group called ‘Iron Brothers’ and wear similar attires,” he added. “It is a short ride through which we make an effort to raise charity for the cause. This year, we were able to generate more money than ever before.”

It’s a great initiative on part of organizers, sponsors as well as participants who are taking out their time and making an effort to raise awareness and funds for men-related health issues through DGR in Pakistan as well as around the world. It’s something the men look forward to. We hope it keeps growing in the coming years and sign off with one question: are the ladies allowed to participate in the DGR too?

Buraq Shabbir

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