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25 Years of Donor Support for Research and Patient Care Programs

Since our founding in 1996, the Ride for Roswell has become a signature event that changes lives for thousands of people — not just the patients and their families, but the faculty, staff, riders, volunteers and donors across Western New York and beyond who join us in the fight to end cancer. The largest single-day cycling event in the nation, the Ride rallies us and unites us into a community like nothing else can.

The Celebration of Hope and Ride Day are special times to see friends, unite with family, reconnect with team members and pay tribute to those we’ve lost. But at the end of it all, our purpose is what fuels every one of us: helping save more lives from cancer through the funds raised during the Ride.

2020 was supposed to be an iconic year – we were supposed to rally like never before to celebrate our 25th anniversary. Instead, it became an iconic year because of some unprecedented challenges. Out of those challenges, the Summer of the Ride was born. And despite all the obstacles in our way, our incredible community still came together and raised more then $3.6 million for Roswell Park and cancer patients. 

Why Do We Ride?

We all have our personal reasons. But when it comes to the ultimate purpose, our quest and our mission, we’ve done some great things through the years. Here are some highlights of the kinds of research, treatment and support the Ride has helped make possible for our patients:

  • Millions of dollars to research and clinical trials studying lifesaving new treatments like the SurVaxM vaccine for brain cancer, as well as helping scientists bring the Cuban lung cancer vaccine CIMAvax to Roswell Park, the only place in the U.S. where it is available in clinical trials.
  • 1,950 OmniSeq® tests for cancer patients, providing detailed genomic and immune profiles to identify the drug or clinical trial that will work best for them.
  • Funding for over 500 SAC research grants. As a result of the SAC grants, Roswell Park faculty members have received at least 117 outside grants, including 15 Department of Defense and 3 American Cancer Society grants.
  • Over 7,400 cancer patient requests for translation services in more than 30 different languages to help patients better understand their diagnosis, treatment and care.
  • HLA matches for 68 Roswell patients, helping them find donors for their bone marrow transplants.
  • $1 million to the construction of the Scott Bieler Clinical Sciences Center, which opened in 2016.
  • $1 million to the Katherine, Anne & Donna Gioia Pediatric Hematology Oncology Center, which opened in 2017.

Timeline of the Ride

We cannot thank our incredible community enough for all the good they’ve done over the last 25 years – and all the good we know they will continue to do! Let’s take a trip down memory lane – check out the timeline of the Ride for Roswell. 

  • 1996

    The first Ride for Roswell debuts on an overcast Saturday morning in late June with 9-mile, 33-mile and 62.5-mile routes. Founder Mitch Flynn, co-chair John Farmelo, route designer John Houghtaling and volunteer Sally Russell lead the small group that organizes the first event. News 4 Buffalo anchor Jacquie Walker is honorary chair. 986 riders raise $101,018.

  • 2003

    The Extra Mile Club is established to recognize riders who raise $1,000 or more, with 39 members in its first year. 

  • 2005

    The Ride celebrates its 10th
    anniversary with an appearance by NHL Hall of Famer and former Buffalo Sabres captain Pat LaFontaine, who rides the 62.5-mile route.

  • 2006

    The Ride breaks the $1 million
    mark for the first time, raising $1.26 million.

  • 2008

    The Ride crosses the $2 million mark, and the first-ever Extra Mile Club Peloton kicks off from Roswell Park, riding 12.6 miles to the University at Buffalo in light rain and a police-escorted 2 x 2 procession.

  • 2011

    $3 million is raised by more than 7,000 riders!

  • 2012

    The Ride becomes a 2-day event, with a new opening ceremony Friday night, conceived by longtime volunteer Chris Eberle. The evening features a procession of Roswell departments followed by the entrance into the UB Stadium of the Extra Mile Club Peloton.

  • 2013

    Nearly 8,000 riders bring in $4 million this year!

  • 2015

    The Ride celebrates its 20th anniversary with a new 46 mile Canada route and by reaching the long sought goal of 1,000 riders raising $1,000.

  • 2016

    The 11-story Scott Bieler Clinical Sciences Center opens on the Roswell campus. Ride for Roswell donors are among 15 leadership gifts of $1 million or more that support the project.

  • 2017

    Pathways Park debuts to honor top fundraisers, teams and volunteers, and the Ride for Roswell ceremonial torch begins a new Ride tradition. Mitch Flynn and the Peloton carry a flame representing the spirit of Roswell Park from the hospital to the Celebration of Hope and light the new torch at the ceremony to officially kick off Ride Weekend. The torch will remain lit until the last rider returns from their route.

  • 2018

    The Ride breaks $5 million for the first time.

  • 2020

    The Ride plans for its 25th
    anniversary but has to make a sharp turn in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. Instead of joining the traditional Ride Weekend at the end of June, riders choose from two ways to ride: 1. at one of our scheduled, physically distanced Rides at three locations around Western New York over three weekends in August; 2. by getting creative and riding their own way in August. Together, the Ride community raises $3.6 million for lifesaving cancer research that will benefit patients not only at Roswell Park but across the nation and around the world.

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