Garry Janz

Swift Current, Saskatchewan

January 13, 1944

First Media Job
CKLG Radio, Vancouver, British Columbia

Garry Janz was born in Swift Current, Saskatchewan. He was raised on a farm near the town of Main Centre located just a few miles north of Swift Current. He attended Herbert High School and then the University of Saskatoon. While he majored in science for one year, his interest in radio and television news would alter his path from science to a broadcasting career spanning over 30 years in news, public affairs, television documentaries and management.

The enticing mild winters of Vancouver seemed a favourable option over the cold Saskatchewan winters and so Garry headed west. Looking for work in radio, he eventually met the manager of CFUN Radio in Vancouver who suggested he first get some training and real hands-on experience by enrolling in a broadcasting course. The CFUN manager advised Garry to head for one particular private school from which a number of well-known CBC personalities had studied.

Garry’s first media job came in 1964 doing traffic reports for CKLG AM 730 in Vancouver. With his skill and zeal he very quickly proved his worth and was moved into news anchoring the CKLG 20/20 News.

Garry’s next job took him to the Fraser Valley in British Columbia where he continued to handle radio news. A year later Garry was in the next province of Alberta, hired by CFCN Radio and Television in Calgary. The year was 1966 and as CFCN Television was an affiliate of CTV, there was a high demand for news content fulfilling local news broadcasts but also integral to the network for items of regional and national interest. In his two years at CFCN Garry acquired his first real experience in television. His role was that of City Hall and Police Reporting granting him experience in front of the camera. Always searching for greater challenges and opportunities, Garry then headed east.

It was 1969 and Garry arrived in Sudbury having been hired by CKSO Radio and Television. He covered more city hall and police reporting and was often on camera anchoring various newscasts. In Sudbury a great deal of time and interest were devoted to television work. In addition to the reporting and anchoring, Garry was given the opportunity to produce documentaries. In two separate occasions he found himself in Europe and in the Canadian Arctic where he toured the bottom of the Beaufort Sea in a two-man submarine!

Garry left CKSO taking on the position of News Director at MCTV. When Baton Broadcasting purchased both Sudbury television stations, including their respective affiliates throughout Northeastern Ontario, Garry found himself strictly in television. Garry’s work in Sudbury served both of the city’s stations, however Garry would eventually serve as News Director for all the stations which included studios and facilities in Ottawa. Garry was next appointed Operations Manager at the Ottawa location. He would spend the 1980s living in Ottawa. He returned to Sudbury in 1990 to reorganize and set up major television news operations for the northern stations.

In 1995 Garry decided it was time to retire from broadcasting and he and his wife moved back to Ottawa. Upon retirement he returned to boating and motorcycling, two hobbies for which he harboured a great love. In his retirement Garry took advantage of the extra time to produce a number of documentaries. Little did he know at the time that one such production would have a tremendous impact in his life, sending Garry on yet, another course. It was a documentary that followed several patients in connection with the Kingston Regional Cancer Centre. Garry interviewed several individuals who talked about their journey with cancer. He got to know these individuals personally rather than simply as statistics. One such interview led to a friendship between Garry and Charlie Pester. Garry became acquainted with Charlie’s prostate cancer but never thought he looked ill. Garry described his friend as “always jovial”. One day during a conversation over coffee Garry asked Charlie what he would be up to that afternoon. Charlie’s reply was like a blindside blow. He confided, “Garry, if someone had told me one year ago about the PSA test, I wouldn’t be going home this afternoon to arrange my own funeral!” Charlie’s sobering words moved Garry to think about what could be done to fight this type of cancer and what he could possibly do himself, especially in the area of fund raising, awareness and education. Soon after, he learned all about the PSA (prostate-specific antigen) test that measures such a protein level in the blood and that the test can be used as a tool to detect prostate cancer.

Another coffee shop conversation between Garry and this time Byron Smith, now a retired police officer, led to an idea that would combine each of their passions for motorcycles and a need to raise money in support of prostate research.

People walk in walkathons, run in marathons, swim, skip and cycle in an effort to raise money, and so why not ride for money? This idea inspired the “Ride for Dad” campaign. In its inaugural ride in Ottawa, some 80 riders raised $20,000. Twenty years later the popular national event has raised over $36 million benefitting biomedical research communities resulting in the development of new treatment strategies and more personalized care for patients. The organization’s website described that first ride as a single, one-day event. “What started out as a one-day community fundraiser has grown into a national charity and network of dedicated volunteers from coast to coast to coast.” Since 2000, Garry Janz has served as the National President of the “Ride for Dad” annual event. Under his leadership, “Ride for Dad” has expanded to 44 chapters involving thousands of volunteers and participants across the country. In addition to treatment, awareness alone has saved thousands of lives. To this day, Garry credits Charlie as the impetus for the “Ride for Dad”. Personally, for Garry, Charlie remains the spirit that impels him to keep going year after year.

For his leadership and dedication Garry Janz received the Rabbi Reuven Bulka Award for outstanding dedication to finding a cure for cancer. The Association of Fundraising Professionals bestowed the Philanthropy Award to the “Ride for Dad” as the Group of the Year. Garry is a recipient of the Governor Generals Meritorious Service Cross presented as recognition of great Canadians who have accomplished exceptional deeds over a limited period of time that bring honour to Canada. There are both military and civil division honours. Garry received the latter on October 17, 2017.

It’s worthy to note that this annual event has taken Garry across Canada and Europe. Garry survived two major accidents while motorcycling. In the first he was t-boned by a deer. The second accident was a hit by a drunk driver.

Today, Garry and his wife reside in Ottawa. He has three daughters, one in Ottawa and the other two living in British Columbia. He also had a son who passed away in 2007. Garry also has two stepsons living in Ottawa and five, as he describes, “amazing” grandchildren.

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