Roswell Park ICU nurse Gabrielle Acosta shares her personal connection to the cause

Roswell Park ICU nurse Gabrielle Acosta shares her personal connection to the cause.

Team Papa's Meatballs at Ride for Roswell

Gabrielle Acosta has experienced Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center through two different lenses: as an employee, working as an ICU nurse, and as the granddaughter of a patient.

Phil Pecoraro, Gabrielle’s “papa,” as she calls him, was diagnosed with bladder cancer in 2013, years before she started working at Roswell Park.

Initially, Phil was being treated at an outside facility, but then the family turned to Roswell Park.

“Everything was totally different. Roswell has completely, completely changed my grandpa’s life, and my family’s life,” said Gabrielle.

Phil Pecoraro at Ride for Roswell

Team Papa’s Meatballs.

Turning their gratitude into action, Gabrielle and her family got involved with Ride for Roswell. She explained, “We started our team, which is called Team Papa’s Meatballs in honor of my papa.”

Gabrielle laughed when explaining the meaning behind the name.  She said not only was Phil ‘famous’ for making meatballs, but he also endearingly referred to his grandchildren as meatballs.

“You know, big Italian family,” Gabrielle said with a smile.

While Phil never rode in the event, Gabrielle says he loved being a part of the Ride Weekend environment. “It was like the like a big party for him,” she added.

Phil passed away in August of 2021, and in lieu of flowers, his family asked that memorials be made to Roswell Park instead.

Even after Phil’s passing, Team Papa’s Meatballs is still as active as ever, raising critical funds for cancer research in his honor. Gabrielle knows the continuation of the team would make her papa proud.

“He was Roswell’s biggest cheerleader. He loved that place, and he was such an advocate.”

A message to other Roswell Park employees.

Team Papa's Meatballs at Ride for Roswell

Employees who get involved in the Ride are a part of what we call Team Roswell, and they play a key role in the event’s success.

To her colleagues who are considering registering, Gabrielle says, “Don’t hesitate. Definitely sign up!”

She added that even if you’re not a cyclist, there’s no reason to be nervous, as there are people of all ages and skill levels. With nine different routes to choose from, ranging from five to 100 miles, there is a path for everyone.

And for employees who may not have experience with fundraising, you are not alone!

“Social media makes it so easy now, even if you just share a link to your fundraising page and post about what you’re doing, that’s a great start,” said Gabrielle.

Her favorite aspect of the weekend is the Celebration of Hope. “It makes me cry every year,” she added. It’s something so impactful she encourages all Roswell Park employees to experience it.


The big picture.

Since Gabrielle works on the frontlines of cancer care, she sees the dollars from Ride for Roswell at work every day.

“Since I have started at Roswell, there have been so many new cancer treatments and that is all because of fundraising and research.”

As she prepares for another Ride Season, she remembers why she joined the movement in the first place.

“Roswell Park gave us seven extra years with my grandfather, and we do the Ride so that our patients and other people can get more years with their families too.”

Team Papa's Meatballs at Ride for Roswell

New to the 2023 Ride for Roswell!

New to the 2023 Ride for Roswell!

On June 24, the Ride Community is coming together again for a common mission: to end cancer.

The 2023 Ride is the same incredible event, but with new opportunities and enhancements for you to enjoy.

Here’s a breakdown of what you can expect.

Rider at Ride for Roswell

The return of the Canada Route.

The Canada Route is back for the first time since 2019! Riders will travel 44 miles along the Niagara Parkway with special lanes across both the Peace Bridge and the Rainbow International Bridge. Enjoy a river view from start to finish. For this experience, there is a $750 fundraising minimum.

This was one of the community’s favorite routes prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and we are so excited to open it up to riders again.

Learn more about the Canada Route here.

Two men bike in front of Niagara Falls on the Canada route

We're moving across campus at UB!

Ride for Roswell has grown tremendously over the years, thanks to dedicated riders and community partners! To ensure the Ride experience is as positive and meaningful as possible, we are moving into a larger space on the University at Buffalo’s North Campus, and we will be utilizing the area at the intersection of White Road and Hamilton Road. The new layout will allow more room for participants to enjoy their Ride while taking in the experiences throughout the day. 

You’ll see some changes to parking, check-in, the start and finish lines and Celebration of Hope. The new space on campus means a better start and finish line experience, team tent village close to the action, new vendors and interactive activities with plenty of room for expansion in years to come.

Signage and guest services will help you navigate campus upon arrival.

Earn new fundraising rewards!

For the 2023 Ride for Roswell, we’re introducing new rewards for your fundraising milestones!

When you raise $750, you can earn this Ride for Roswell camping chair.

Ride for Roswell camping chair

Kickstart your fundraising with a self-donation and we’ll send you an exclusive post-it note pack.

Post-it note pack

Elevation of EMC.

Extra Mile Club (EMC) members go above and beyond to bring hope to patients at Roswell Park. Last year, EMC members accounted for 75% of total funds raised. That’s amazing!

We are excited to announce we have elevated the fundraising minimum for EMC to $1,500. EMC Silver will remain at $2,500. This change will lead to an even greater impact in fueling life-changing cancer research and patient care programs. We know that the Ride Community is up for the challenge and we’re here to help!

Riders who raise more than $2,500 will have access to the EMC Silver tent, along with one guest.

Learn more about why you should become an EMC member here.

Rider at Ride for Roswell giving a thumbs up.

Every year we aim to enhance the rider experience with new rewards and experiences, and we can’t wait for you to be a part of the Ride this season!

Year 27: 2022

  • More than 7,700 riders raise $5.6 million
  • Top fundraiser: Bill Loecher – $168,791
  • Top youth fundraiser – Rosalie Comaratta
  • Top team: Team West Herr
  • The 2022 Extra Mile Club has 1,646 members
  • Return of the full Ride for Roswell back at UB
  • Introduction of the Parade of Teams at the Celebration of Hope ceremony

See photos from the event.