Meet Maryann Salvadore: The 2023 Ride for Roswell Torch Lighter

Maryann Salvadore was diagnosed with end-stage cancer when she was 44. But even during the fight for her life, she has always strived to bring people together and create a safe space for the ever-growing community of those affected by cancer. That’s who Maryann is, and that’s one of the many reasons why she has been selected to lead us as the 2023 Ride for Roswell Torch Lighter.

Marcus, Mark and Maryann
Team Salvadore at Ride for Roswell for the first time in 2011

Maryann’s journey.

It was 2009 when Maryann learned she had an aggressive form of multiple myeloma. She was a full-time business owner and mother to then 12-year-old Marcus. At the time of her diagnosis, the cancer had already metastasized throughout her body, attacking 90% of her bone marrow.

For the following nine months, Maryann spent every other day at Roswell Park, between six to 12 hours per day. She leaned heavily on her husband Mark, who took her to all of her appointments.

“We had never expected a medical center to be filled with such compassionate people,” she remembered. “It was so uncommon to come across somebody who wasn’t looking you in the eye, talking to you, calling you by your first name and treating you like you were a friend or family member.”

Fast forward to 2011, treatment continued. One day in early spring, as Maryann was undergoing chemo, she and Mark noticed signs for Ride for Roswell.

Per Mark’s suggestion, they decided to start a team. Once Maryann, Mark and Marcus registered, they sent out an email letting people know they signed up for Ride for Roswell.

“Before we even left chemo, people started joining,” said Maryann.

That first year, their team had 45 people. And so, the tradition was born.

Team Salvadore Pedal Power.

Every year, Team Salvadore Pedal Power averages between 60 and 80 members, but their team tent always has more than 100 people. That’s because Maryann has always wanted her team to be a community, a place where anyone dealing with a cancer diagnosis can feel welcome.

“Our team is about letting people know that there’s hope,” said Maryann. “We all want to take away the power the cancer holds over the people we love, and I wanted people to feel comfortable sharing their stories.”

Since 2016, her team has also been responsible for enhancing one of the most impactful elements of the Ride – the finish line. Along the pavement, members of Team Salvadore Pedal Power write the names of every rider who has designated themselves as a cancer patient or survivor. In 2022 alone, that was 714 riders. It’s a visual representation of what bring us all together at the Ride.  

“When you have cancer, so many things are taken away from you. This is something those riders can share with their friends and family,” Maryann explained with tears in her eyes. “Some people are in the middle of treatment on that bike, doing everything they can because it’s so meaningful to prove this is another thing cancer is not going to take away from them.”

Due to the type of cancer Maryann has, she’s never been able to actually ride, but that hasn’t stopped her from becoming an integral part of what makes Ride for Roswell so special – a person who embodies inclusion and compassion.

Recent Team Salvadore photo
Team Salvadore at Ride for Roswell

Amplifying voices.

Over the last 13 years, Maryann hosted countless gatherings, fundraisers and picnics leading up to Ride for Roswell. She is a source of solace and support for many people living with cancer, caring for a family member or grieving the loss of a loved one.

“I meet so many phenomenal people who inspire me,” said Maryann. “Everybody knows someone they care about and love who has gotten a cancer diagnosis, and not everybody is as lucky as me.”

As the 2023 Torch Lighter, she wants to use her unique position to put a spotlight on a larger message.

“The information that we’re learning from the research that they’re doing at Roswell Park is making treatments easier on people. It’s giving people like me a decade more than I would have gotten anywhere else and at any other point in time, but the work is not done. There are so many people who deserve so much better.”

That’s why she is a part of the Ride: because every dollar raised drives research that will change lives.

“I’m so grateful to be here, and because I am here, I just want to try to figure out ways to make life easier for everybody else,” Maryann added. “If you know somebody who has cancer, you give them your love and support, but how you help all cancer patients – is you Ride for Roswell.”