Anita Jones: Two decades of Ride for Roswell

Anita Jones is what we like to call a fundraising ‘go-getter.’ She knows Ride for Roswell isn’t just about Ride Day, but rather what we can accomplish when we come together with a shared mission of ending cancer. She’s gained perspective of the difference the dollars can make at her first Ride for Roswell 21 years ago, and she’s been hooked ever since.

Anita Jones at Ride for Roswell

Getting Involved in the Mission to End Cancer

Anita Jones at Ride for Roswell

Anita has participated in the Ride every year for more than two decades. Even when an injury prevented her from riding, she still raised funds for the cause. She reflected on what got her involved initially.  

“I was working for a State Farm agent, and at the time his father was going through cancer. So, he formed a team. I love to ride my bike anyway, so I was like, ‘Okay, I’m all for it!’ and I’ve never stopped.”

After crossing the finish line for the first time, she knew the experience would stick with her. To this day, that is still one of her favorite parts of Ride Weekend. As she recruits new riders to the cause, she tells them about that impactful moment.

“I say, at the end, you may get emotional because you’re looking at all the names that are on the road that are written down. Either they’re survivors or in memory of someone. Then at the finish line, everybody’s ringing the bells and sometimes you might see a patient who is without their hair or you see little kids and you can’t help but get welled up with emotion because they’re saying thank you, and I’m thinking this is the least I can do, ride my bike. It is nowhere in comparison to what you’re going through.”

Fundraising for the Cause

Every year, people in Anita’s life know the request for a donation is coming. She believes people appreciate her dedication year after year, and some even reach out to her before she has a chance to solicit.

“I’m a Roswell Park supporter for life. It’s just something that I do, and people know that. When they see me, they’re like, ‘Are you doing the Ride again this year?’ I’m like, ‘You betcha! I’m there.”

Her advice to other fundraisers: Don’t be afraid to ask.

She utilizes Facebook and Instagram to garner donations, and she goes through all the contacts on her phone to see who might be able to support her efforts.

 “If they don’t, that’s fine. I say, ‘Please say a prayer for me on the day of the Ride.’”

Anita has raised more than $17,000 through the Ride, and this year alone, she’s striving for $5,000.

“It’s still not enough until cancer is one of those things that we don’t have to worry about anymore.”

Anita holding an Extra Mile Club sign
Anita walking in the procession at Celebration of Hope

Finding Purpose through the Ride

Anita at a tour during Ride for Roswell Kickoff
Anita at Ride for Roswell

The more Anita learns about the impact of the Ride, the deeper she dives into the movement. This Ride Season, she attended Ride Kickoff, which was held at Roswell Park for the first time.

“I went through the tour and it just blew my mind. The research that Roswell Park does — it never ceases to amaze me. Everybody is so invested and it’s one of those things that you can’t help but care. You can’t help but invest your time because it means so much to so many.”

She says the Ride has become much more than a summer tradition, but something that truly is a part of who she is as a person.

“This is something that has become one of my missions in life. Everybody tries to think of, why? What’s your purpose? Why are you here? I always think my purpose is to motivate people. If I can motivate people to contribute, whether they like me personally or whether they just get behind the cause, I think that’s part of my life’s mission.”

When asked how long she plans to participate in the Ride, Anita didn’t hesitate.

“As long as God enables me to be healthy, if I can ride, I’ll ride. When it comes to a time when I can’t ride anymore, I’m going to volunteer. I’m going to do something with Roswell Park,” she added. “It’s just a great cause, a great mission. I hope one day we can say, ‘Cancer? What is that?”