James Osmond holds up his board during his stop in Port Hardy. The longboarder is in the early stages of a bid to ride his board across Canada raising awareness of prostate cancer.

James Osmond holds up his board during his stop in Port Hardy. The longboarder is in the early stages of a bid to ride his board across Canada raising awareness of prostate cancer.

Long boarder on long ride for prostate cancer

Ontario man bids to board across the country for prostate cancer awareness.

Locals driving the highway last week may well have passed James Osmond on the road.

If you did you would probably remember — the longboarder was hard to miss.

Osmond stopped off on the North Island last week as part of his cross-country tour to raise awareness of prostate cancer.

The Ontario native was in high spirits after the first two weeks of his journey. “It’s one man, a board and a dream,” he said.

Osmond set off from Vancouver May 1 — his first trip outside his home province — and made his way up Vancouver Island by board, stopping off along the way to pass on his message.

He explained that his grandfather, Maurice Gordon Rafuse, was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1999 and fought a prolonged battle against the disease before passing away in 2005.

Osmond took on the challenge of long boarding his way across the country, stopping in each provincial capital, as a way to commemorate his grandfather and promote regular checks for the disease.

“It’s very preventable,” he explained. Men forty or older should have annual checkups, while those with a family history should consult their doctor to begin earlier testing.

“It’s our own responsibility to maintain our health,” he said.

Osmond plans to traverse the country over the coming months, travelling solo with his tent and supplies in a backpack, and relying on the good will of strangers along the way as he pushes for St. John’s, Newfoundland.

The road up-Island made for a tough start to the journey. “The Malahat was just brutal,” said Osmond, recalling the long uphill climb. He was looking forward to coming out the other side of the Rockies however, and getting onto the relative flat of the prairies; “It’ll be awesome — the open road, wind at my back….”

To follow Osmond’s journey check his facebook community at www.facebook.com/TheBigPushToPreventProstateCancer.