Out-of-the-box fundraising: Baking with Gusto!

Lauren, her mom Lisa, sister Katie and friend Michelle stand in a kitchen for their Baking with Gusto! fundraiser.

Out-of-the-box fundraising: Baking with Gusto!

Lauren and her mom, Lisa, smile widely in winter jackets.
Lauren and her friend, Michelle, stand in a kitchen surrounded by baking tools.

For Lauren Latona, the Ride for Roswell goes beyond just a summer bike ride. Her mother, Lisa, is fighting stage four stomach cancer and visits Roswell Park often for treatments. Since her diagnosis, Lisa has always decided to mirror her life after one motto: Live with Gusto! The mantra is a simple reminder to make the most out of every day and to bring vigor and enthusiasm to all she does. 

Taking a page out of her mother’s playbook, Lauren decided to give back to Roswell Park and the Ride for Roswell by “Baking with Gusto!” All proceeds from her planned bake-a-thon would be donated to a cancer center that’s close to her family’s heart. For weeks, Lauren took orders from people in her network —quiches, cookies, cheesecakes and more. Then, she got down to business. With the help of her friend, Michelle, she baked for two days straight while checking orders off her list.

When all was said and done, the baking duo raised more than $600 for Roswell Park. Then, Lauren’s company, Sirius XM Radio, matched all donations for a total of $1,230 toward cancer care and research.

Lauren’s mom (and her sister, Katie) couldn’t be more proud of her efforts. Here’s what her mom had to say:

“Bake with Gusto! was born from the hearts of two warm and generous bakers — my daughter Lauren and her friend Michelle. They were looking to give back to RPCI for the great care I’m receiving, so they came up with a fantastic idea to bake for friends and family in return for donations. I still tear up when I think they were able to donate over $1200 to RPCI. Bake with Gusto! — a passion project close to my heart.”

Thank you, Lauren and Michelle, for all your efforts!

What out-of-the-box fundraising have you been trying? Share your ideas with us on social!

Featured Team: Team Shuno

Why does your team ride in the Ride for Roswell?

When we started as a Team of 8 in 2018, it was a few years after my sister in law underwent treatments for Breast Cancer and my mom started her battle with Lung Cancer. In the summer of 2014 we lost my uncle Ralph to Throat Cancer. In October of 2015, on the same day that we learned of my wife’s Breast Cancer diagnosis, my mom went to the hospital with what would be the spread of her cancer to her brain. Shortly after that, with my mom and my wife dealing with their surgeries and treatments, my dad was diagnosed with Prostate Cancer. In the spring of 2017 my friend Susan Tanner lost her valiant battle with metastatic Breast Cancer. Needless to say, it was a rough few years. With all that had happened we felt the need to do something to not only celebrate those that were still with us and honor those that we lost, but also to do something to help the cause in some way. The Ride For Roswell was the perfect opportunity and we have been riding and growing as a team ever since! This year we will have 15 riders from Buffalo, Olean, Rochester and Vermont!

What does leading a team mean to you?

I feel a tremendous sense of pride to be able to organize our families and do something to help this cause that has affected us in such profound ways.

What is your favorite part about Ride weekend?

There are so many things I love about Ride weekend. At the top of the list is the Celebration of Hope. It’s a chance to slow down from all the prep and remember why we are riding. Although it’s always a very emotional event, it is also incredibly uplifting and empowering.

Bob and Julie Furminger Talk Tradition

For Julie and Bob Furminger, the Ride for Roswell is a quarter-century tradition that keeps getting more meaningful with time. It all started 25 years ago with a gift. A dear friend of the Furmingers gave them a racing bike shortly before he passed away from cancer. The couple saw that as an opportunity to honor their dear friend and put the bike to good use by participating in their first-ever Ride for Roswell.

The Beginning

That first year left a strong impression on the Furmingers. They rode through pouring rain and got soaked to the bone pedaling down cobblestone streets. It wasn’t easy, but it was worth it.

One image remains with them to this day:

“We stood outside the hospital and waved to the people in the windows at Roswell Park,” Julie says. “Then, everybody got on their bikes and left with a bag pipe player. It poured rain, and we were soaking wet right through. That was not easy, but it was a very memorable thing to be at the hospital with all those people in the windows.”

Twenty-five years later, the Furmingers are still riding strong for everyone affected by cancer at Roswell Park and beyond. Despite the normal obstacles of everyday life, they commit to riding year after year. Even their most recent challenge — Bob’s hip surgery — couldn’t stop them from participating in a tradition they love.

Through the Years

According to the couple, the Ride for Roswell has gotten even better with time, bringing new traditions, bigger celebrations and different ways to ride. This included the formation of their team, the Clarence Christian Crusaders. When the Furmingers shared their enthusiasm for the Ride for Roswell with their church, the entire community rallied behind them and decided to ride together. Since the pandemic, the team has leaned into the Ride Your Own Way Option, which has given them the ability to ride from anywhere and chart their own course while supporting the same great cancer cause.

This year, they plan to cover 25 miles with 30 other church members riding or cheering them on. A few preschool kids will also join them for a shorter ride to a local ice cream shop. Their parents see this as a teaching opportunity, showing their little ones that helping the community matters (while giving them a sweet treat).

On Fundraising

The Furminger’s team isn’t the only thing that’s grown over the years — their fundraising has, too. The Clarence Christian Crusaders has managed to fundraise thousands of dollars for cancer care and research at Roswell Park over the years with more than $21,000 raised last year alone. They’re hoping to match that number again this year. The Furminger’s fundraising efforts are eclectic with some donations coming directly from their church community and others coming from their friends and loved ones and friends of loved ones. They write personalized letters each year to the people in their lives, explaining what they’re doing and asking for donations. Last year, they sent out between 50 and 75 letters, and almost all of them came back with donations.

“It doesn’t have to be a large donation,” Bob says. “It can be a small amount of money, but the more people who donate, the more money we’re going to get. And that’s what it’s all about — getting enough to keep the research going.”

As times passes, more people in the Furmingers lives have been affected by cancer, including friends and team members. This year, the Furmingers will be riding for their daughter-in-law, who was recently diagnosed with cancer and began treatment at Roswell Park. This experience has brought a renewed sense of urgency in their fundraising for clinical trials and research.

“I have lost so many friends [to cancer], and if I can do anything to slow that down or stop it, I would consider my efforts successful,” Bob says.

Final Thoughts

Thinking back on her 25-year journey, Julie had one last sentiment to share.

“A long time ago, I met a lady from Barcelona, Spain,” Julie recalls. “She was given a scholarship to come to the famous Roswell Park hospital. She had just graduated from medical school, and it was the fifties. She impressed me, and I thought, ‘Gee, that’s really an important place down there.’ I still feel that way about Roswell Park. I just feel good about helping.”

Join the Furmingers at the 2022 Ride for Roswell today.

Featured Team: Andrea’s Army

The Ride for Roswell is very meaningful to my family. We’ve had many experiences with cancer through numerous family members. Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, Brothers, Sisters, Cousins, Grandchildren, young and old, so many have experienced cancer in one way or another. The team, Andrea’s Army, is named after my sister Andrea who battled Stage 4 Kidney cancer at the young age of 28 years old. She put up an extremely courageous battle against cancer and never gave up. We like to raise money and ride every year in her memory to continue her fight against cancer. Her generous and joyous spirit lives on in us and in this event.

What does leading a team mean to you?

Leading Andrea’s Army is very bittersweet for me. I wish my sister Andrea were by my side to lead her team herself. I feel her energy through the love and support I have received over the past 9 years from friends and family alike.

What is your favorite part about Ride weekend?

Waiting at the start line is always my favorite part. The excitement from the community of people around me is always overwhelming! Then, when I push the pedals and take off, riding through the crowd of supportive strangers cheering and ringing their bells is such a wonderful feeling. I am so happy to be part of this event year after year.

Featured Team: Cycling for Sue

Why does your team ride in the Ride for Roswell?

2019 was Team Cycling for Sue’s first year riding. The previous fall after only five months we lost my wife Sue and my children Kody and Teal’s mom to the horrible disease of lung cancer. My brother Jeff suggested to me that we ride in her memory. It was and still is a very emotional event to participate in as all the memories of her come flooding back. While originally riding for her, hence the name Cycling for Sue, since then we have lost a number of friends and family to some type of cancer and it has opened up our eyes to see how so many are effected by Cancer. While the team is still Cycling for Sue, we ride in memory of all those that we have lost and for those that are fighting to survive.

What does leading a team mean to you?

Leading the Cycling for Sue team gives me comfort that quite possibly the funds we raise might save someone’s life and have someone advert the loss of a loved one. Sue was about helping others. Whether it was with a meal, a friendly call or a shoulder to cry on she was always there for others. I know she is looking down on us and smiling for all that we are doing for others.

               

What is your favorite part about Ride weekend?

My favorite part of the Ride Weekend is that it gets so many people together for such a great cause. While tears flow with the memories the ride also teaches us that so many are helped at Roswell and that it is Roswell that gives someone the chance to ring the bell!

Featured Team: Team Skoden

For Whitney Ann Henry, forming a Ride for Roswell team marked the realization of a goal she set nearly two years ago. Along with her coworker and team co-captain, Josie Raphaelito, Team Skoden came to fruition. Skoden is a slang term used in the Indigenous community to mean “Let’s go then!” or “Let’s get after it.” The name aligns perfectly with their goal to support their department: the Center for Indigenous Cancer Research (CICR) at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Whitney Ann, the Indigenous patient navigation coordinator, and Josie, a research project coordinator, are both passionate about furthering the CICR’s mission of reducing cancer’s impact on Indigenous communities. They are also committed to bringing awareness within the Indigenous community of the resources available through the CICR.

CICR - Center for Indigenous Cancer Research Team

CICR Resources

A few examples include:

  • Colorectal cancer screening education classes
  • The Indigenous and Rural Patient Navigation Program: a free, non-clinical service for cancer care
  • Student internships
  • The Native CIRCLE Library, a virtual hub for culturally appropriate health education materials for Indigenous communities, scholars, researchers and educators
  • The Talking Circle, a podcast that focuses on Indigenous health and wellness
  • The Talking Circle webinar series featuring health and wellness experts and topics that are most important to Indigenous communities. Check for upcoming webinars or catch up on previous topics, including April’s talk featuring David R. Wilson, PhD, Director of Tribal Health Research Office, who discussed his work with building a unified presence between the National Institutes of Health and tribal leaders across the nation.

    Watch the webinars.

About Team Skoden

Whitney Ann and Josie have opted to have the funds they raise for the Ride for Roswell directly benefit the CICR to continue these efforts and advance the critical research and community services that will reduce the cancer burden within Indigenous communities. Cancer is one of the top leading causes of death for Native Americans in Western New York, so the work done through the CICR is critical.

Team Skoden has grown to include 14 riders with a goal to collectively raise $10,000 through the Ride for Roswell. Together, the team looks forward to joining thousands of other riders committed to making a positive impact.

“I’m riding for my whole reservation,” Whitney Ann says. “We always have Indigenous communities in mind, and we do it for them.”

Join Team Skoden or create your own team for the Ride! No team is too big or too small to make a meaningful difference.

 

 

Connect with us!

Contact.

Office address.

Elm and Carlton Streets
Buffalo, NY 14263

Phone number.

716-THE-RIDE
(716-843-7433)

Proceeds directly benefit: