Social Media Fundraising: Integrating with Instagram

Social Media Fundraising 101

Facebook recently made it much easier to share your Facebook fundraiser on Instagram, but funds from Instagram are not displaying in the Ride for Roswell dashboard

Here’s what you need to know.

Already set up your Instagram fundraiser?

If you’ve already set up an Instagram fundraiser, we can help you get credit for the amount raised. Please reach out to us at rideforroswell@roswellpark.org with the following information from your Instagram fundraiser:

  • Your full name
  • The names of all of your donors
  • The Instagram usernames of all your donors
  • The individual amounts raised by each donor
  • The date of each donation

From there, we will manually post the donations to your account. This can take up to four weeks, as we are unable to post a donation until we receive the payment from Instagram. Please keep this in mind for the cut-off dates for the Peloton and your rewards. 

Instagram sends donations monthly with no information regarding the donor or recipient. That’s why your help is so important.

Instagram fundraiser with number of donations circled in red
Show the donors who have donated to the fundraiser through Instagram
Welcome to my Ride Page instagram screenshot

Why it's happening.

When you switch your fundraiser from Facebook to Instagram, however, the integration to your Ride for Roswell fundraising page gets lost.

The funds are sent to the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation (the non-profit organization that runs the Ride for Roswell), but they don’t reflect on your Ride for Roswell page.

For that reason, it’s best to avoid using Instagram fundraisers.

Here’s what you can do instead:

  1. Stick with fundraising on Facebook or directly through your Ride for Roswell page.
  2. Copy the link from your Ride fundraising page (see below) and paste it to stories or your bio on Instagram (create a story, click the “stickers” button at the top, and select “link” to paste your URL).
Shows the Ride for Roswell page where you can copy your URL

Lindsey Gold, cancer survivor and registered nurse: Why I Ride

Lindsey Gold, cancer survivor and registered nurse: Why I Ride.

Lindsey Gold's team at Ride for Roswell
Lindsey riding at Ride for Roswell

Few moments in life mirror the vulnerability of those spent at a chemo infusion center.

That’s where Lindsey Gold works as a registered nurse at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center. She’s the person who administers chemo, immunotherapies and other medical necessities for outpatient cancer patients.

With each visit, Lindsey brings her expertise, knowledge and compassion. But, she also brings deep understanding – because she’s been the patient in this scenario, too.

At 24 years old, Lindsey was diagnosed with stage IV Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Her cancer journey included chemotherapy and radiation. After eight months of treatment, she was cancer free.

“It’s sometimes hard not to wonder how I was lucky enough to go into remission. I have struggled with survivors’ guilt in the past. Especially with many close family members and friends who have battled cancer or lost their lives to this awful disease,” Lindsey explained.

Joining the fight to end cancer.

Channeling her gratitude into a movement, Lindsey started riding in Ride for Roswell in 2008.

“I felt I truly owed my life to Roswell. I wanted to do anything I could to repay them for my second chance at life.”

Lindsey also rides in memory of loved ones who passed away due to cancer, including her grandmother, father and uncle.

“My beautiful Grandma Pat who dedicated her life to helping others, also battled breast cancer. She was taken from us at only 60. She was a youth counselor for the Town of Tonawanda School System. When she passed, a young adult came up to me and asked if I was her granddaughter and proceeded to tell me, “Your grandmother saved my life.” Words I will never forget! That made me so proud of the person she was, and that will always inspire me in me my nursing practice with my patients.”

“My beautiful Grandma Pat who dedicated her life to helping others, also battled breast cancer. She was taken from us at only 60. She was a youth counselor for the Town of Tonawanda School System. When she passed, a young adult came up to me and asked if I was her granddaughter and proceeded to tell me, “Your grandmother saved my life.” Words I will never forget! That made me so proud of the person she was, and that will always inspire me in me my nursing practice with my patients.”

“My dad was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia at 60 years old. Upon diagnosis he was immediately admitted to Roswell Park. He spent most of the next four months inpatient at Roswell. He passed away early on the morning of Ride for Roswell that year. Our hearts broke. We were given very little time to fully wrap our heads around losing him so quickly, and unfortunately never getting a real chance to say goodbye. He was a wonderful man, with the biggest heart. To know him truly was to love him.”

“My dad was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia at 60 years old. Upon diagnosis he was immediately admitted to Roswell Park. He spent most of the next four months inpatient at Roswell. He passed away early on the morning of Ride for Roswell that year. Our hearts broke. We were given very little time to fully wrap our heads around losing him so quickly, and unfortunately never getting a real chance to say goodbye. He was a wonderful man, with the biggest heart. To know him truly was to love him.”

“Shortly after I was diagnosed, my Uncle Mark confided in me that he was battling esophageal cancer, and that he was given a short amount of time left to live. He was my closest uncle, and an unbelievable local musician and artist. He taught me his love for The Beatles, and how to be comfortable in my own skin. It still breaks my heart to know that I was somehow able to come out on the other side alive, while he was preparing to lose his life to cancer at the exact same time.”

Lindsey’s impact.

When Lindsey committed to Ride for Roswell nearly 15 years ago, she started a ripple effect. The weekend event has grown into an annual family tradition of making a difference in the future of cancer research.

“Every year my sister even flies in from California to ride by our side.”

Lindsey says over the last several years, she personally has raised more than $38,000 dollars. Her team, as a whole, has raised more than $124,000.

It’s the mission that keeps her coming back every Ride Season. She explained, “We Ride to fund new treatments for these patients to be given hope for a cure and a future without cancer.”

Lindsey at her team flexing at Ride for Roswell
Lindsey at Ride for Roswell

Message to other Roswell Park employees.

Lindsey’s main piece of advice to other Roswell Park employees considering getting involved in Ride for Roswell is to attend the Celebration of Hope the night before the Ride.

“Hear the patients’ stories, where the funds go, feel the passion and the emotion in the air that night. It is one of my favorite things about the Ride. It always is a firm reminder of exactly Why I Ride.”

She swears after one Ride Weekend, you’ll become a “lifer” like her – and love every second of it!

Keeping up the momentum.

When Lindsey was diagnosed with cancer, she never could’ve imagined the impact she would have in the lives of others dealt the same card.

As a nurse at Roswell Park, she sees why the Ride matters every day – and she knows there is still work to be done.

“I think of my patients who tell me their stories every day at work – how some of them are completely out of options.” She added, “The Ride helps to give you some power against cancer. I’m so grateful I am able to participate and pay my dues back to Roswell, ride my heart out for my family and friends this disease has taken from me, and to cry some tears that day knowing we are riding toward a future where cancer no longer exists.”

Lindsey holding a sign saying she's riding for herself

Gratitude in action: Kathy Caruso shares the story of hope behind Team ‘Otterly’ Phil

Gratitude in action: Kathy Caruso shares the story of hope behind Team ‘Otterly’ Phil.

Team Otterly Phil

Time means different things to different people. For Kathy Caruso of Humphrey, N.Y., time is a gift.

In life, the unexpected can happen; the challenges that remind us we don’t have control over how much time we get. But, it’s how we choose to spend that time, that makes the journey real, authentic and human.

As Kathy remembers her late husband Phil Stock, you can tell by her contagious smile, that the couple made every second count, even when their time was cut short.

“Cancer was with us all of our married life, but it never stopped us from living and loving and doing the things that we always wanted to do,” Kathy explained.

The beginning.

In 2003, Kathy and Phil became husband and wife.

“We just got married and we had all the hope and the
wonder.”

However, four months into their new chapter, Phil was diagnosed with anaplastic thyroid cancer, one of the fastest growing and most aggressive cancers. The two had to pivot from planning for the future, to navigating a life-altering disease.

“It was devastating because it was a grim diagnosis. He just had the wind knocked out of his sails. He fainted in the office.”

Once they had the results, Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center had a plan for Phil to begin treatment for the following Monday.

Phil and Kathy

“That’s how quick it was,” Kathy emphasized.

Phil underwent enhanced radiation and chemotherapy and, while intense, Kathy praised the precision of the treatment.

“It was the therapy he needed. It was the treatment he needed. It was guided by the hands of the oncologist, the radiologist. I can’t say enough about those people. They saved his life.”

Three years after that initial diagnosis, Phil was recovering – both in health and spirit, and he was incredibly grateful.

Kathy added, “It was a miracle delivered through Roswell.”

Getting involved.

Kathy describes their role in Ride for Roswell as “gratitude in action.”

After Phil’s clean bill of health, in 2007 he bought a bike and decided to get involved. For Kathy and Phil, fundraising and riding in Ride for Roswell was their way of giving back.

“My gosh, that man rode that bike till the end of days and always in Ride for Roswell. That was his go-to.”

But in 2010, the couple got hit with another shock. Phil’s second cancer diagnosis. This time, it was stage IV colon cancer.

Team Otterly Phil

The last lap.

With Phil’s new diagnosis, Kathy said, once again, the staff at Roswell Park got right into action. It wasn’t until five years later that Phil had exhausted all treatment options, and turned to palliative care.

“Through palliative care, we got two more years, and that was a gift of time to do things we had wanted to do, to finish things up that we hadn’t done.”

Kathy explained the team at Roswell Park also helped Phil to say goodbye to friends and family and to hope in a different way. She added, “The doctors and the nurses were incredible and just so special.”

The summer leading up to his death, he visited with people in a gazebo he had previously built in their backyard. Even during the hardest times, his spirit and zest for life never faded.

“He was so grateful for every minute, for every day, for every year, for every time we walked out of Roswell Park and we got the go to live. Man, he just embraced it all,” said Kathy. “We had 15 years together and every minute of it is a gift.”

Kathy remembered one of the last conversations she had with her husband, in which he expressed he wished they had their own team at Ride for Roswell. Imagine the impact they could’ve made!

He died just days before the Ride in 2017, but in his honor, Kathy started a team the next year. 

Team ‘Otterly’ Phil.

On the team page description, Kathy explained the meaning behind the name Team ‘Otterly’ Phil. She wrote in part:

“Phil and I once pondered what animal we would like to be. He chose the otter. He chose well. Otters are engaging creatures overflowing with positive energy. Intelligent and bright, they are also popular, eminently lovable and love the water! Otters mix easily with a wide range of animal personalities. Doesn’t that describe him to a tee?”

While the team started because of Phil, it has grown into something much bigger. After all, even during his life, Phil aimed to put others in the spotlight. Kathy believes that’s what made him such a wonderful teacher and human being.

“We ride under his name, because it’s what he wanted, but we ride for so many others,” said Kathy.

Team Otterly Phil Logo

Making an impact.

Each of us has the power to make a difference, whether you ride, donate, volunteer or help spread the word. Kathy said her team’s philosophy is, “A penny or a pound, it’s all forward motion.”

When asked to describe Ride Weekend, Kathy said the experience, above all else, is hopeful.

Hopeful to end cancer. Hopeful for time.

“I know that there are many, many people in the world who are struggling with what he went through and I just pray to God that they have some part of the spirit that Phil had, and if I could do anything to help that go forward, that’s what I’d like to do. That’s why we ride.”

Finding the route for you

Riders crossing the finish line at Ride for Roswell

Finding the route for you.

So, you want to participate in Ride for Roswell, but aren’t sure which route to choose. No problem!

The mission to end cancer inspires people of all backgrounds, ages and abilities – and we want to make sure anyone who wants to ride, has an opportunity to.

With nine routes to choose from ranging from five to 100 miles, there is a perfect Ride Day route for everyone! Whether you’re an endurance cyclist or a casual rider, you can ride at your own pace.

All the routes, with the exception of Canada, start and end at the University at Buffalo’s North Campus. Additionally, participants ages 1-17 must ride with riders over 18 years old.

Here’s a brief description of each route to help you select the best option for you.

5-mile River Route:

This recreational loop on the UB and Amherst bike paths runs along Ellicott Creek and through the woods, with no car traffic to worry about. There’s a rest stop at the halfway point to relax and regroup. This is great for casual riders but we don’t recommend children with training wheels take on this route. The start times are 10 a.m. and 10:20 a.m. View the route map here.

10-mile River Route:

Journey through paved roads, bike paths and parks. Enjoy the cool breeze off the river as you ride from UB to Ellicott Creek. On this route, there is one rest stop. The start times are 9 a.m., 9:20 a.m. and 9:40 a.m. View the route map here.

20-mile River Route:

Follow Ellicott Creek and the Niagara River to beautiful Niawanda Park, then back through the City of Tonawanda. You’ll see the Niagara River at one of its widest points while you ride flat roads and bike paths on the bed of the original Erie Canal. There are two rest stops on this route. The start times are 8 a.m., 8:20 a.m. and 8:40 a.m. View the route map here.

 

30-mile River Route:

Ride along roads and bike paths beside Ellicott Creek and the Niagara River through Niawanda Park and Isle View Park. Return on the Two Mile Creek bike path through the City and Town of Tonawanda, then through Ellicott Creek Park back to UB North. There are three rest stops on this route. The start times are 7:20 a.m. and 7:40 a.m. View the route map here.

 

Rider at Ride for Roswell
Rider at Ride for Roswell
Rider at Ride for Roswell
adam gives a thumbs up and smiles as he rides his bike

34-mile Country Route:

On this route you will tour through historic Clarence Center and the farmlands of Newstead before heading back to UB North along tree-canopied roads in rural Erie County. There are four rest stops. The start time is 7 a.m. View the route map here.

44-mile Canada Route:

The Canada Route is back for the first time since 2019! Unlike the other routes, this one starts at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center and finishes at UB. Riders will travel along the Niagara Parkway with special lanes across both the Peace Bridge and the Rainbow International Bridge. Enjoy a river view from start to finish. There are four rest stops. The start times are 6:30 a.m., 7 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. View the route map here.

 

45-mile Country Route:

In this adventure, you’ll ride through Clarence, Newstead, and Akron for a tour of the rolling hills of the beautiful Western New York countryside. There are five rest stops. The start time is 6:40 a.m. View the route map here.

65-mile Country Route:

You’ll travel all the way out to Akron and the Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge and back again. The rolling hills of the Western New York countryside make this a great route for any cycling enthusiast. There are six rest stops. The start time is 6:20 a.m. View the route map here.

100-mile Country Route:

Go for the extra miles and hills with this 100-mile Country Route! You’ll head east through the rolling hills and farmlands of Genesee County in a scenic loop toward Batavia. Rejoin the other country routes at Akron and enjoy the Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge. To participate in this ride, you must be able to complete 100 miles by 2:30 p.m. There are seven rest stops. The start time is 6 a.m. View the route map here

Riders smiling at Ride for Roswell
A sign on the back of a bike reading "More miles for Moe"

Ride Your Own Way.

If you’re unable to participate in Ride Day but still want to be a part of the movement – here is your solution! Ride Your Own Way throughout the summer.

Through Ride Your Own Way, you are in control of your Ride experience. You choose the date, distance, route and location. With this option, your Ride can even be on a stationary bike if that’s what you prefer!

Click here to learn more about how to get started and even check out some suggested places to Ride.

No matter how you Ride, you are helping us in our mission to end cancer.

 

Roswell Park ICU nurse Gabrielle Acosta shares her personal connection to the cause

Roswell Park ICU nurse Gabrielle Acosta shares her personal connection to the cause.

Team Papa's Meatballs at Ride for Roswell

Gabrielle Acosta has experienced Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center through two different lenses: as an employee, working as an ICU nurse, and as the granddaughter of a patient.

Phil Pecoraro, Gabrielle’s “papa,” as she calls him, was diagnosed with bladder cancer in 2013, years before she started working at Roswell Park.

Initially, Phil was being treated at an outside facility, but then the family turned to Roswell Park.

“Everything was totally different. Roswell has completely, completely changed my grandpa’s life, and my family’s life,” said Gabrielle.

Phil Pecoraro at Ride for Roswell

Team Papa’s Meatballs.

Turning their gratitude into action, Gabrielle and her family got involved with Ride for Roswell. She explained, “We started our team, which is called Team Papa’s Meatballs in honor of my papa.”

Gabrielle laughed when explaining the meaning behind the name.  She said not only was Phil ‘famous’ for making meatballs, but he also endearingly referred to his grandchildren as meatballs.

“You know, big Italian family,” Gabrielle said with a smile.

While Phil never rode in the event, Gabrielle says he loved being a part of the Ride Weekend environment. “It was like the like a big party for him,” she added.

Phil passed away in August of 2021, and in lieu of flowers, his family asked that memorials be made to Roswell Park instead.

Even after Phil’s passing, Team Papa’s Meatballs is still as active as ever, raising critical funds for cancer research in his honor. Gabrielle knows the continuation of the team would make her papa proud.

“He was Roswell’s biggest cheerleader. He loved that place, and he was such an advocate.”

A message to other Roswell Park employees.

Team Papa's Meatballs at Ride for Roswell

Employees who get involved in the Ride are a part of what we call Team Roswell, and they play a key role in the event’s success.

To her colleagues who are considering registering, Gabrielle says, “Don’t hesitate. Definitely sign up!”

She added that even if you’re not a cyclist, there’s no reason to be nervous, as there are people of all ages and skill levels. With nine different routes to choose from, ranging from five to 100 miles, there is a path for everyone.

And for employees who may not have experience with fundraising, you are not alone!

“Social media makes it so easy now, even if you just share a link to your fundraising page and post about what you’re doing, that’s a great start,” said Gabrielle.

Her favorite aspect of the weekend is the Celebration of Hope. “It makes me cry every year,” she added. It’s something so impactful she encourages all Roswell Park employees to experience it.

 

The big picture.

Since Gabrielle works on the frontlines of cancer care, she sees the dollars from Ride for Roswell at work every day.

“Since I have started at Roswell, there have been so many new cancer treatments and that is all because of fundraising and research.”

As she prepares for another Ride Season, she remembers why she joined the movement in the first place.

“Roswell Park gave us seven extra years with my grandfather, and we do the Ride so that our patients and other people can get more years with their families too.”

Team Papa's Meatballs at Ride for Roswell

New to the 2023 Ride for Roswell!

New to the 2023 Ride for Roswell!

On June 24, the Ride Community is coming together again for a common mission: to end cancer.

The 2023 Ride is the same incredible event, but with new opportunities and enhancements for you to enjoy.

Here’s a breakdown of what you can expect.

Rider at Ride for Roswell

The return of the Canada Route.

The Canada Route is back for the first time since 2019! Riders will travel 44 miles along the Niagara Parkway with special lanes across both the Peace Bridge and the Rainbow International Bridge. Enjoy a river view from start to finish. For this experience, there is a $750 fundraising minimum.

This was one of the community’s favorite routes prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and we are so excited to open it up to riders again.

Learn more about the Canada Route here.

Two men bike in front of Niagara Falls on the Canada route

We're moving across campus at UB!

Ride for Roswell has grown tremendously over the years, thanks to dedicated riders and community partners! To ensure the Ride experience is as positive and meaningful as possible, we are moving into a larger space on the University at Buffalo’s North Campus, and we will be utilizing the area at the intersection of White Road and Hamilton Road. The new layout will allow more room for participants to enjoy their Ride while taking in the experiences throughout the day. 

You’ll see some changes to parking, check-in, the start and finish lines and Celebration of Hope. The new space on campus means a better start and finish line experience, team tent village close to the action, new vendors and interactive activities with plenty of room for expansion in years to come.

Signage and guest services will help you navigate campus upon arrival.

Earn new fundraising rewards!

For the 2023 Ride for Roswell, we’re introducing new rewards for your fundraising milestones!

When you raise $750, you can earn this Ride for Roswell camping chair.

Ride for Roswell camping chair

Kickstart your fundraising with a self-donation and we’ll send you an exclusive post-it note pack.

Post-it note pack

Elevation of EMC.

Extra Mile Club (EMC) members go above and beyond to bring hope to patients at Roswell Park. Last year, EMC members accounted for 75% of total funds raised. That’s amazing!

We are excited to announce we have elevated the fundraising minimum for EMC to $1,500. EMC Silver will remain at $2,500. This change will lead to an even greater impact in fueling life-changing cancer research and patient care programs. We know that the Ride Community is up for the challenge and we’re here to help!

Riders who raise more than $2,500 will have access to the EMC Silver tent, along with one guest.

Learn more about why you should become an EMC member here.

Rider at Ride for Roswell giving a thumbs up.

Every year we aim to enhance the rider experience with new rewards and experiences, and we can’t wait for you to be a part of the Ride this season!

Meet Alissa Vogelsang: Buffalonian, yogi and cancer thriver

Meet Alissa Vogelsang: Buffalonian, yogi and cancer thriver

Alissa rides her bike alongside the waterfront.

Several days a week, Alissa Vogelsang unrolls her yoga mat, bows her head and flows through a series of poses that challenge her physically and mentally. The practice has become spiritual in nature, serving to ground and center her as she moves through her day. She belongs to Space on Seneca, a yoga studio that’s owned by her best friend Colleen. Ever since Alissa’s move back to Buffalo a year ago, she has become ingrained in the community and looks forward to her practice.

Along with family and friends, the Space on Seneca community will join Alissa at the start line of the 2022 Ride for Roswell. As they ride, they will be honoring Alissa and her battle with metastatic cancer.

Alissa’s Cancer Journey

Alissa was just two weeks shy of her 30th birthday when she received the news. She lived in New York City at the time and discovered a lump she assumed was a cyst. A trip to the doctor confirmed her worst fears: She had breast cancer.

“Nobody could ever prepare you for hearing those words: You have cancer. It feels like having the wind knocked out of you,” she says. “Imagine your worst fear come to life. Cancer didn’t care that I was only 29 years old. Cancer didn’t care that I was in great shape. It didn’t care what my marital status was or what my career path looked like. It didn’t care if I had time for cancer or if I was terrified of having it. Cancer doesn’t care. It just comes in and starts taking over.”

After being diagnosed, Alissa went through a series of surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation. She was in active treatment for almost a year before finally moving into remission. When she heard the good news, she exhaled, not knowing she’d been holding her breath since the beginning. From there, she resolved to get back to everyday life.

Fast forward three years. Alissa had just gotten back from a three-day yoga festival and felt a pain in her shoulder. She chalked it up to doing one too many chaturangas during her yoga practice and went to see an orthopedist. Concerned about the cancer returning to her breasts, she had been diligent about getting her MRIs and mammograms — but she had never thought about the rest of her body. As it turned out, she hadn’t pulled a muscle. The cancer was back, and it had metastasized.

The Road to Roswell Park

Alissa wears a #TeamAlissa T-shirt and triumphantly raising her hands in the hair beneath a sign that says "warrior." Her head is bald.
Alissa and her partner hug from a hospital bed. They are smiling and wearing matching #TeamAlissa tie-dye T-shirts.

Alissa began treatment for stage 4 cancer in NYC, but shortly after came the added stress of a global pandemic. Seeking a stronger community of family and friends, Alissa and her partner Brett made the decision to move back home to Buffalo, and Alissa moved her cancer treatment to Roswell Park, a center renowned for cancer care and research. Her first round with cancer made her familiar with hospitals, blood draws, testing and lingo, but this time was different. With it came new fears about her prognosis and quality of life. Some big questions weighed on her mind: Am I going to die? How soon am I going to die? What will my life look like now?

That’s where Roswell Park stepped in. The staff made her feel welcome and gave her confidence in her ability to fight back against the disease. They provided her with tools to keep moving forward and have taken care of her when it matters most.

“Roswell Park is supporting me in my fight against cancer, but more importantly, they’re allowing me to truly live my life. It’s not just about tackling the cancer and the diagnosis. It’s about ensuring that I get to still live my life the way I want to, as best as I can, despite the cancer,” she says.

Making the Most of Every Moment

Alissa stands next to her partner. She has a bald head and he wears a baseball cap and striped shirt.Living life is exactly what Alissa is doing. She continues treatments while leaning in to the things and people she loves most: her partner Brett, her fur baby Max, her family, friends and fitness. She’s more dedicated than ever to her yoga practice, carving out 60 or 75 minutes at a time to meditate as she moves through her flow. This has become an important part of her cancer journey, allowing her to tune in to her body and recognize when something doesn’t feel right.

Beyond that, Alissa’s committed to giving back to Roswell Park and helping others who are living with cancer. That’s why she decided to do the Ride for Roswell with the support and dedication of her yoga studio and loved ones.

“I feel very confident that a big part of why I’m here today and able to do these things and thrive is due to science and the advancements in cancer research. That’s a big part of what makes me so excited to participate in the Ride for Roswell. It’s helping create awareness and funding for science and research,” she says.

Ride Day Game Plan

Alissa and her best friend Colleen pose in front of their bikes on a beach with palm trees in the background.

On Ride Day, she’ll be surrounded by her partner, her brother (who’s flying in to ride with her), parents, best friend and fellow yogis. Her entire support system continues to rally behind her, including everyone who has donated to her Ride fundraiser. She will be riding in the Peloton for the Celebration of Hope and recently hit her goal of raising $10,000.

“I think the most exciting thing is to be surrounded by our community — our smaller community that includes our team and the larger Buffalo community. The number of people who do the Ride for us is so impressive, and it’s amazing to see people united for such a great cause: putting an end to cancer. To come together for something that is personally so important to me and celebrate it with so many loved ones is very, very meaningful.”

Look for Alissa and Team Space on Seneca this weekend!

Out-of-the-box fundraising: Check out Ellen’s story

Sign that says, "All proceeds go to Ride for Roswell"

Out-of-the-box fundraising: Check out Ellen’s story

Ellen and her family gather around a branded sign at the Ride for Roswell.
Table of goods at Ellen's garage sale. There is camping gear, tools, and a beer cooler.

Hitting your fundraising goal can seem difficult, especially if you haven’t fundraised before. While Facebook is one great tool to spread the word and rally people, it’s not the only way — just ask Extra Mile Club member Ellen Geitter.

Ellen has been participating in the Ride for Roswell for nearly a decade. In recent years, she has been joined by her sisters — Mary, Megan and Karen — and two nieces. The Ride is their way of honoring their mother who passed away from small cell adenocarcinoma, an aggressive lung cancer. Through clinical trials at Roswell Park, their mom turned a two-year prognosis into eight years, and the sisters feel strongly about giving back in her memory. This year, Ellen her family will be Riding Their Own Way along a thirty-mile route between Utica and Rome, NY, on the Erie Canal.

Ellen had already raised more than $1,200 for Roswell Park, but with the weather warming up, she saw an opportunity to do even more in the fight to end cancer. She and her sisters sifted through tons of items, and Ellen asked herself, ‘What do I need? What don’t I need?’ They ended up with a lawn full of treasures and the idea of donating all the profits to the Ride for Roswell.

“I’m a blessed person, and I want to pass that along. If this can be in service of that and move me along, then it’s worth it,” Ellen says.

At the end of the weekend, Ellen and her family raised more than $3,300 from their garage sale. How are you fundraising to end cancer this summer? Let us know on social media!

Sam Accordino: Riding His Own Way in Alaska

Sam Accordino:
Riding His Own Way in Alaska

Cancer impacts every one of us, but for Sam Accordino, that six-letter word has irrevocably shaped his life.

Sam’s daughter Casey was always strong-willed. The oldest of three, she took the lead in all things involving her younger brothers, Nick and Max. She proudly donned mismatched socks and loved watching her favorite sports teams, especially the Bills, Sabres and Bisons. She was outspoken yet honest. As a kid, she managed to get caught by her parents every time she skipped school. As a young adult, she worked as a social worker and gave selflessly to others, bringing hope to those around her.

“She came into the world screaming, and she ruled the roost,” Sam says. “She really was a fun-loving kid — a giving, caring and wonderful person.”

Even as she battled cancer, Casey sought ways to uplift others, joining groups at Roswell Park like the Young Adult Cancer Program and making friends with nurses and patients alike. She was diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2013 and underwent surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation at Roswell Park. She entered remission. Thinking she had it beat, she looked forward to the next phase of her life and marked the occasion by marrying her best friend, Kevin.

But cancer had its own plans. In October 2017, Casey’s cancer returned, much more aggressive this time. At the same time, her mother was diagnosed with endometrial cancer.

Sam's Reason(s) Why

Sam’s daughter will always be his first and foremost reason why — the driving force behind his desire to end cancer. Casey’s journey isn’t the only one that’s impacted Sam, though. His 94-year-old mother survived both breast and ovarian cancer, and Sam recently learned that he has prostate cancer. Sam’s wife, Annette, discovered that she had carcinoma and went through treatment at the same time as Casey. Annette and Casey alternated rounds of chemo so they could care for one another, though they occasionally shared a room and an IV stand.

After additional surgeries and rounds of chemo, Casey passed away on October 27, 2018, three weeks after her 32nd birthday.

On top of everything else, Annette also learned that she has the BRCA2 gene — the gene that carries a high risk of developing breast cancer. As a preventative measure, Annette underwent a double mastectomy. The couple is trying to get ahead of cancer any way they can.

“I’ve had heartache, and I’ve had successes,” Sam says. “I wish the outcome would’ve been different for Casey, but unfortunately that’s how life is. Cancer affects a lot of people.”

Fighting Back

One of the ways Sam is working to get ahead of cancer is by participating in the Ride for Roswell. His goal is two-fold: honor Casey and work toward a world where fewer people have to say goodbye because of cancer. He’s doing that by riding and fundraising for Roswell Park, the institution that supported his family during some of their most difficult days.

“A lot of people don’t know about the numerous services Roswell Park offers like pastoral care, wellness activities or grieving sessions,” Sam says. “We still get together with some of the people we’ve met through Roswell.”

Sam aimed to raise $5,000 dollars toward cancer research, a milestone he’s already exceeded. The achievement will be rewarded with an engraved brick in Kaminski Park. He will dedicate that brick to Casey and her unwavering strength.

Riding in Alaska

When Sam decided to participate in the Ride for Roswell this year, he wasn’t sure how to make it work. The event takes place on June 25, the same day he planned to be on the other side of the continent. For the past three years, he and his wife had been trying to get away to Alaska, but the trip kept getting postponed due to family conflicts and the ongoing pandemic. The pair finally booked their vacation — on the same day as the Ride. That wasn’t going to stop Sam.

With the Ride Your Own Way option, Sam can participate in the Ride for Roswell from Anchorage, Alaska. His game plan is ambitious: He’ll ride in the Peloton during Celebration of Hope on Friday, June 24, at the University at Buffalo, hop on a plane Saturday morning and rent a bike as soon as he lands. Sunday morning, he’ll set off on the Tony Knowles trail, an 11-mile path along the coast of Anchorage that passes forests, vistas, earthquake fault lines and Mount McKinley, North America’s highest peak.

“I plan on doing the whole 22 miles unless a moose gets in my way, which is a real possibility,” Sam says, laughing. “It’s going to be a cool adventure.”

When he finishes his ride, Sam plans to celebrate with his wife and friends while remembering Casey, his strong-willed daughter who loved her family, husband Kevin and dog Charlie, and fought with everything she had.  

Ride Your Own Way like Sam or join the Ride for Roswell in person on June 25.

The Draudt brothers fight back

The Draudt brothers fight back

For brothers Adam and Dan Draudt, participating in the Ride for Roswell comes down to one word: hope. They’ve seen the impact Roswell Park has in the lives of cancer patients and know firsthand how cancer can turn lives upside down. To the Draudt brothers, Roswell Park helps cancer patients fight back, giving them hope for a better tomorrow.

In 2021, Adam was told he had multiple myeloma, a cancer of the plasma cells that causes bones to weaken. Luckily, doctors caught Adam’s cancer early, and he was able to fight back through stem cell treatments and chemotherapy. As of February, he is fully in remission. The diagnosis, however, flipped Adam and his family’s world around.

“It could happen to any of us,” Dan says. “I never would’ve thought it would happen to my brother, but here we are.”

While Adam was undergoing treatment, Dan sought out a way to take action for cancer patients like his brother. He signed up for the Ride for Roswell, wanting to make an impact for future generations. With Adam’s help, they raised more than $34,000 for cancer research! This year, they’re celebrating Adam’s remission by fundraising again.

“The funding that they get from Ride helps people like me go from a [cancer] diagnosis in June to full remission in February,” Adam says. “As a survivor, I see how the funding helps people behind the scenes at Roswell Park make advances they wouldn’t be able to otherwise.”

Everyone’s cancer journey differs, but for the Draudt brothers, hope keeps them working toward a world where we end cancer for good. Adam also has a little advice for anyone who might be hesitant to sign up for this year’s Ride:

“Go for it. You’ve got nothing to lose. Even if you don’t finish, you still raised money that’s going to help so many people in the future,” he says.

Check out Adam and Dan’s team, MADaboutcancer, and register for the Ride for Roswell today.