If it weren’t for the Ride, Nicole Cooke says she may not be where she is today. After losing her grandfather, David, to pancreatic cancer, she registered for the Ride for Roswell.
Nine years later, she is still just as committed to the Ride. Not only has she rode hundreds of miles, but she’s also fundraised more than $20,000 for patients at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center. Today, Nicole can’t imagine her summer without participating in the Ride.
“I feel like Roswell was the starting point of my journey into non-profit executive leadership,” Nicole said. “If you would have asked me 10 years ago if I would be biking for charity, raising thousands of dollars, and riding hundreds of miles; I would have laughed because I would be like, ‘oh, I could never do that.’ But then I did.”
This year, Nicole is riding the 65-mile route at Niagara County Community College. Even though it’s a new year, the reason she rides remains the same.
“I ride because I lost my grandfather to cancer. I always say I ride for a world where no one else loses their grandpa.”
Nicole’s grandfather was a kind and generous man. When he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, Nicole and her family knew Roswell Park would offer him the best care. When David passed away, Roswell sent Nicole’s grandmother white roses.
“That’s what makes Roswell Park so special and why so many people feel compelled to do the Ride because you feel like they see you and your family as real people.”
Likewise, Nicole loves participating in the Ride and coming together as a community to change the future.
“For people who participate in the Ride, it’s a moving experience and it changes you as a person. It’s not even just about the money raised, it’s about the experience.”
Her favorite moment of the Ride is the moment of silence at the start line when all the cancer survivors raise their hands.
She loves knowing she’s part of changing the lives of cancer patients by raising funds for research and quality of life programs at Roswell Park.
“The one thing that I love about the Alliance Foundation is that it often pays for things that are more quality of life. It is clinical research, treatment, and cutting-edge science, but at the same time it’s iPads for people who couldn’t get visited during COVID, it a Nintendo for the kid’s lounge, it’s art classes for adults who need a therapeutic outlet.”
Today, Nicole cannot imagine her life without the Ride. When Nicole looks back on her past nine years, she hopes that her impact will touch and comfort more families as the Ride community raises more funds that go towards cutting-edge research.
“Not only did I do it, but thousands of other people showed up for the same cause – we all did it!’ I think there is something to be said about the collective feeling of achievement.”