Spearheading Team Roswell’s top fundraising team

Employees at Roswell Park serve cancer patients every day, but their commitment to the cause doesn’t stop there. Hundreds of employees also do their part in the mission to end cancer by participating in Ride for Roswell. We call this group, along with their family members, Team Roswell. Since 2012, Team Roswell has raised more than $3.5 million through the Ride.

For several years, the Donor Center has been the top Roswell Park team — led by Maria Turner.

Getting Involved with Ride for Roswell

Maria, who is also the marketing and communications manager for Roswell Park’s donor center, took part in her first Ride for Roswell as a vendor representing the donor center in the mid-2000s. She says the experience was eye-opening, and encouraged her to come back the following year as a participant.

That next year, Maria’s entire family participated in the event and she rode a tandem bike with her son, who was just six years old at that time. What started as a one-time event for her family has grown into an annual tradition. She’s taken part every year since.

“It’s the most humbling thing we do every summer. It sets the tone for the rest of the summer because when you get in that mindset of doing something to help other people, then it stays with you and you want to keep doing that all summer long,” said Maria.

Maria Turner, a Ride for Roswell team captain
Riders on the Donor Center Team
Riders on the Donor Center team
Participants on the Donor Center team

Starting the Donor Center Team

Maria founded the Donor Center Team and she has been its captain every year.

“We stay in communication. We’re a close-knit group. We get together after the Ride to celebrate our success and we just have a good time.”

The Donor Center Team has held its place as the top Team Roswell team for several years. In 2024 alone, they have surpassed a goal of raising $60,000. Maria says they are passionate about their goals, which motivates each team member throughout Ride Season.

However, she credits their success largely due to a very determined team and the decision to dedicate their fundraising to a different patient each year.

“A couple years into it, we decided to ride in honor of one of our patients and, in particular, a patient who was utilizing blood products so that we could bring even more recognition to our program. Having our honoree family involved firsthand helped them understand a little bit more about Ride for Roswell.”

A win/win for both the donor center and Ride for Roswell — but that’s not all.

“What happens as a result is actually beyond amazing. Down to the most basic level of healing, we have seen by affording these patients and their families an opportunity to see beyond their own situation and become involved to a larger extent, ends up providing healing that I never saw coming. Our families consistently express their gratitude for the opportunity and how much it helped them”

Many of the honorees they’ve selected over the years have had no prior experience with the Ride, but as a result of riding with the donor center, their family and friends have stayed connected to the event long-term.

In fact, many of the patients the donor center rode in honor of are still active in the Ride

Advice to Anyone Considering Joining the Ride

When it comes to fundraising, Maria doesn’t want others to be intimidated by the donor center’s strong numbers. She recommends jumping in with social media to kick off your efforts. Her team also utilizes a large gift card raffle every year and other methods to encourage people to contribute. The key is just getting started.  

Maria believes the Ride is something you have to experience for yourself, and she thinks everyone should try to participate at least once.

“I encourage everybody to try it because you get hooked. Once you’re there and you realize all that’s happening, it’s something that you want to be part of every year. The experience is beyond what I can really put into words.”

Aside from the altruistic reasons to get involved, Maria stressed … it’s fun!

“Like we always say here at Roswell Park, ‘Just give it one day.’ I would say, ‘Just give it one Ride,’ I think you’ll see then why you’ll want to continue.”

The Donor Center table at Ride for Roswell
Donor Center at Ride for Roswell