by Rachel Kocsis
The Ride for Roswell is more than just a bike ride around the city or a fundraiser for cancer research. It's a rare bond between thousands of strangers who are fighting for the same cause: a cure for cancer. It's a connection between cancer survivors, those who are currently battling cancer and those who are riding in memory of others who have lost their lives to this deadly disease.
As this year's Ride for Roswell is steadily approaching, I'm reminded of why I have chosen to participate in this event for six consecutive years. After personally riding a total of 150 miles and raising more than $2,000 for cancer research, I'm proud to say I ride in memory of my grandmother who lost her battle to skin cancer over 20 years ago. The Ride for Roswell is an experience like no other. Before the start of every race, hundreds of ambitious riders gather around an announcer who asks every cancer survivor to raise their hand. As several hands fly up into the air, the crowd explodes with cheer and applause, reminding each survivor they are not alone.
Throughout each of the routes, there are volunteers alongside every road to cheer on riders as they pass by. The emotional support the ride offers for everyone involved is remarkable. Moments as memorable as these ones can be cherished by each person who partakes in this experience. The ride not only raises money for cancer research, but also honors those who have overcome cancer.
This year, The Ride for Roswell will take place Friday, June 27, and Saturday, June 28, at University at Buffalo's North Campus. Six years ago, when I finished my first ride, Roswell raised almost $1 million. In 2013, Roswell raised more than $4 million from one day of riding. With the help of volunteers and donors across Western New York, Roswell is able to fund research programs as well as patient care programs. Thirty-one thousand patients at Roswell Park benefit from the money raised through The Ride for Roswell.
Each and every one of us knows someone who has been affected by cancer. Many ask, "What can I possibly do to help?" The ride is your answer. The ride offers 11 scenic routes, suitable for the whole family, including country rides, river rides and family rides ranging from five miles to as long as 104 miles.
Signing up is free and easy to do. Once you visit www.rideforroswell.org, click on the green "Register" button and begin. You can create a team to ride with or simply ride by yourself. T-shirts will be given out before the ride begins, lunch is served after the ride ends, and a live band will perform throughout the afternoon.
The Ride for Roswell has a different meaning for everyone. To some, it's a way to remember and honor those who have lost their battle with cancer. To others, it's an opportunity to raise funds for patients who need necessary care. This year, The Ride for Roswell hopes to beat last year's donations of $4 million.
Together, we can make it happen.