Dr. Johnson’s 6 Favorite Things About the Ride

Ride Weekend is one of my favorite times of the year. While 2020 marks the 25th anniversary of the Ride, I personally will be participating in my 18th ride! Since 1996, the Ride for Roswell has become a signature summer event for this community.

Everyone, whether you’ve been to the Ride once or 24 times, finds their favorite moments of the weekend. Those moments that keep you coming back every year and remind you of the true purpose and reason why you’re there.

Here are just a few of my favorite things about the Ride for Roswell. Maybe you share some of these special moments as your favorites with me.


I’m excited to see the Celebration of Hope back in the UB Stadium this year! I look forward to seeing the Peloton’s emotional kickoff from Roswell Park, watching the riders arrive to the crowd’s cheers at UB, and being part of the procession of patients, survivors, doctors, nurses and caregivers. What a joy it is to celebrate hope with so many people who have found it here at Roswell Park in one form or another.


The torch, the creation of longtime volunteer leader Chris Eberle, symbolizes the spirit of hope that lives at Roswell Park. We light it during the Celebration of Hope for all who find hope at Roswell Park and in tribute to everyone we’ve lost, and it remains lit through the final rider passing the finish line. This year, we’re planning a special torch lighting ceremony to commemorate each person who makes the Ride so special. It’s going to be a can’t-miss moment of Ride Weekend.


This is a place of personal victory for many on Ride Day. So every Ride Weekend, I pause for a moment at the finish line. I look down at the road running beneath the arch and read names painted in bright colors: riders who are also cancer survivors. Spelled out before us, the reason we ride and the reason we work hard every day. The reason our research continues to be important. The reason we must continue our quest to end this disease. I think of every person who crosses that finish line, and I am grateful for each one and for what we’re making happen by doing this together.


The creativity, love and support that go into each team is astounding. Everyone at the Ride has been touched by cancer, and most teams ride in honor or in memory of someone in particular. Whether that’s a parent, grandparent, brother, sister, child, best friend or co-worker, the Ride has become a day to celebrate life and those we love. While I may be a bit biased, my favorite team is Team Roswell. As team captain, I would personally like to invite anyone in the community to join Team Roswell and ride together with us to end cancer.


Is there anyone on earth as happy as a child riding a bike? It makes my heart happy, too, especially to know that they’re getting their first taste of the difference they can make in the community and what it means to give to others. Throughout my years participating in the Ride, I’ve had a front row seat to watch some children grow into adults and continue to Ride and make a difference.


It’s like a living thing. People are excited to be together on this pursuit to end cancer, laughing or crying over a shared memory, or proud of their triumph in getting here today. The Ride brings us together in a rare way, unites us in a goal to end this horrible disease, which we can only do together. For those who’ve lost loved ones, this is a place like no other, where so many others understand exactly what they’re going through.

The difference we’ve made in the lives of cancer patients and their families is truly amazing. The Ride has helped fund work like our cutting-edge immunotherapy studies; HLA testing to find bone marrow donors for patients; and quality of life programs that bring art into our patients’ lives here at the hospital, provide free wigs to patients, support music in the lobby, provide wellness programs like massage and yoga, help with certain financial costs and much more.

I look forward to celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Ride for Roswell with you in June!

— Candace Johnson, PhD