Sep 30, 2022 10:00 AM

Read time: 5 minutes

Author: Raegan Erickson, Huntsman Cancer Foundation

Zach and Tami Parris at Tour De Lava in June with representatives from sponsoring businesses: Jonathon Hunt of Barrie’s Ski and Sports and Mike Dixon of Pebble Creek Ski Area.
Zach and Tami Parris at Tour De Lava in June with representatives from sponsoring businesses: Jonathon Hunt of Barrie’s Ski and Sports and Mike Dixon of Pebble Creek Ski Area.

After Zach Parris received a prostate cancer diagnosis, he and his wife, Tami, wanted to do more to fund research for the disease. They began their nonprofit organization, Ride on Dads, to raise awareness in their home of Pocatello, Idaho. We asked Zach about his story and what Ride on Dads means to him and his community.

How did your personal cancer journey inspire you?

I was diagnosed with prostate cancer when I was fairly young. I was 54 years old and had a pretty aggressive kind of cancer. My doctor referred me to Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah. I got to know a number of doctors and nurses at the hospital, and had such wonderful treatment there. One of my doctors and I talked about what we can do to help people like me have better outcomes. That’s what got me started.

I realized that Huntsman Cancer Institute has wonderful researchers whose mission in life is to eradicate cancer. That felt like a good fit for me. I’ve had some friends and acquaintances who struggled with cancer and passed away. Fundraising is something that my wife and I felt good about. We wanted to contribute because we have benefited from what goes on at Huntsman Cancer Institute. I just appreciate what they do, and we wanted to do our part to try to help.

What is Ride on Dads?

Ride on Dads is a nonprofit we started to raise money for cancer research at Huntsman Cancer Institute. After I was diagnosed with cancer, about a dozen friends and family members rode with me annually in Huntsman SportsFest’s 140-mile bike race. In eight years, we raised $56,000. My wife and I started brainstorming how we could raise more money, and I came up with the name Ride on Dads. We decided we could have some events here in Idaho and share our story to try to get some local participation. We’ve had a really good turnout from our local businesses, and we couldn’t do it without them. And the same teammates from SportsFest now help with Ride on Dads. Pocatello’s population is about 56,000. We’re fortunate to live in a town this size and have support from businesses, friends, acquaintances, and of course, event participants. So far, we’ve raised more than $50,000.

group of people on bicycles
Tour De Lava in June 2021.

Why is it important to continue funding prostate cancer research?

We wanted to contribute to prostate cancer research for many reasons. If you are a stage IV cancer patient, as long as you know there’s research going on, you know there’s hope for new treatments, hope for new ways to extend people’s lives, and hope for cures.

I had a doctor tell me the only thing that stands between curing prostate cancer and not curing it is money and research. He told me a long time ago that a few thousand dollars makes a big difference. It was easy for me to say, “I’ll just write a check for a couple thousand and walk away.” But the truth is, as you get more people involved, you find there are more people than you realize who have been touched by cancer in some way. That’s the engine that drives it.

What are upcoming Ride on Dads events and why should people join?

Each year Ride on Dads holds two fundraisers in Idaho: a ski event at Pebble Creek Ski Area in March, and a bike ride, Tour De Lava, in June. We also have a local company that holds team roping, barrel racing, and other rodeo events each year in Pocatello. In September, they donate a portion of their proceeds to Ride on Dads in honor of prostate cancer awareness month. 

Ultimately, our goal is to make a difference. If it wasn’t for my wife, I couldn’t do it. My whole family shows up and helps. It’s a lot of work, but it’s so fulfilling and so fun. It’s brought our family closer together. Any money that we receive goes straight to Huntsman Cancer Foundation. I’ve met some great people at my events who have been affected by cancer. It’s amazin­g how touched people are by what we’re doing and how excited they are to donate what they can and support the events.

group of people at pebble creek ski area
Zach and Tami Parris with prize winners during the 2021 Ride on Dads event at Pebble Creek Ski Area.

prostate cancer fundraising events giving patient stories

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