The importance of service to others is something Doug Citron learned at a young age working on the Variety Club Telethon.
“I was raised in my family that you volunteer,” Doug explained.
He carried that value with him into adulthood and getting involved with Ride for Roswell seemed like a natural fit.
“I’ve been involved with Roswell Park my whole life. My father was a doctor, and my brother is an oncologist. My wife, Jill, retired from Roswell Park after more than 30 years. My father-in-law was a longtime patient and I have been a patient myself.”
Ride for Roswell began in 1996, thanks to another passionate volunteer – Mitch Flynn.
Doug and Jill joined the cause a few years later.
Growing with the Ride.
Doug became a Ride for Roswell volunteer in the event’s early days. He started out in the team tent area – before being pulled to help with the parking lots.
“Back then, there were only three parking lots. Now, we have every parking lot on campus,” Doug laughed.
This new role aligned perfectly with Doug’s 30 years of experience in law enforcement and security. He leaned on his expertise and connections to build relationships with local agencies and develop the parking system that is still in place at the event.
Doug also pushed for more opportunities for other volunteers to utilize their professional skillsets, just as he did.
As the Ride continued to grow, so did Doug’s involvement. Among his tasks, he started a volunteer committee and encouraged the creation of a full-time volunteer coordinator position.
A family tradition.
Doug not only volunteered alongside his wife Jill, but his children also took on roles at the Ride.
“It’s been the greatest thing for me. It was a way of having a great family reunion,” Doug explained. “Our children in Buffalo and their families participated and our daughter Betsy and her husband would fly in from wherever they were living to work the Ride.”
After the Ride, Doug and Jill would even host a thank-you party for the volunteers with typically more than 100 people.
“I love the volunteers, the people,” Doug added when asked what kept him coming back for so many years.
Passing the torch.
Heading into the 2023 Ride for Roswell, Doug and Jill are ready to pass the torch to the next generation of volunteers.
While their involvement is changing, Doug says the Ride will still be a present force in their lives.
“It will never stop. People know me from the Ride and it doesn’t matter what restaurant I go into or what social event, the Ride is the number one topic of conversation. It will always be there.”
He looks back on his many years of service fondly, and he has a message for other people looking to join the cause.
“You’re probably going to work harder than you’ve ever worked, but you’ll come away with the best, most amazing feeling.”
Over the years, the Ride has raised tens of millions of dollars for life-changing cancer research, clinical trials and treatments. That would not have been possible without volunteers like Doug.
“Nobody ever dreamed that it was going get this big and raise this much money,” he said. “It’s a privilege to be a part of Ride for Roswell.”