“Being a part of ATP is my small way of paying it forward to future generations”

Ron Guidinger, Alberta’s Tomorrow Project participant and co-chair of the ATP Participant Advisory Committee shares his journey with Alberta’s largest research platform.

Alberta’s Tomorrow Project (ATP) first began to recruit Albertans in 2001 to help contribute to valuable cancer and chronic disease research. In the early days, the ATP team knew that recruiting 50,000 individuals was an ambitious goal, but early adopters like Ron Guidinger showed there were many generous Albertans inspired by the project’s vision. Ron, a former fighter pilot, signed up as an early participant of ATP as he saw it as an interesting and meaningful way to contribute to medical research. Ron recalls he didn’t know quite how many people ATP was looking for, but thought, ‘hey, why not’, it sounded like something that was pretty easy to do and it’ll make a difference someday.

“Being a part of ATP is my small way of paying it forward to future generations,” stated Ron. “Whether it be the quality of life of the next generation or informing better practice for future health regimes, I wanted to contribute to that.”

Ron has generously donated his time, as well as samples and information including saliva, urine, health and lifestyle information, and bone density. And 20 years later, Ron has continued to support the project in more ways, by volunteering to become the co-chair of the Participant Advisory Committee (PAC). The PAC plays an important role, helping to represent the diverse voices of ATP’s 55,000 participant base in advising, guiding and informing the project’s decision-making and activities.

“I am a natural leader and joining the PAC felt like a natural progression of my life’s experience.” shared Ron. “It is a really interesting, thoughtful and enthusiastic and diverse group with interesting perspectives. It is exhilarating to participate in the sessions, and to hear the thoughts that come up in conversations. I continue to marvel at how well PAC’s meetings have been guided by ATP staff.”

Ron believes that 20 years of ATP is a mark of success. The longevity of the program means that it has value, and it has given Ron a sense that this study will continue to increase its value every year, and that is something that means a lot to him.

“I believed this study was going to meaningfully add value to medical research, disease prevention, diagnoses, improving prognosis and managing disease symptoms. All of this is the source of inspiration to continue engaging with ATP.”

Ron also shared that during his days a fighter pilot that the ‘knowledge, skill and doctrine for flying is built over generations so people can learn and not make the same mistakes as the past and learn from them.’

“This isn’t just for me, new ideas are constantly being injected into it (ATP), and considering and adding to the latest thinking so that future generations can benefit. Building these long term projects provide the infrastructure for future health decision makers.”

Ron plans to be a part of the study for as long as he can. To learn more about ATP, please visit myatp.ca. To join in celebrating the 20th anniversary, please follow the ATP blog, and join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter.