Two Roswell Park employees, Danielle Casucci and Amy Lesakowski, are taking part in the Empire State Ride for the first time this summer! As cancer survivors, they know the importance of raising funds for cancer research. Danielle told us a little about their stories and what inspired them to take part in this seven-day, 500+ mile ride across New York state.

How did you find out about the Empire State Ride?

Amy emailed me the video of the ride from last year and I immediately said, “I’m in!”

What inspired you to sign up? 

Amy and I inspire each other. We both long to fulfill the need to raise awareness and give back to this cause. As employees at Roswell Park, we know how critical these funds are in supporting the continuous efforts of cancer research here.

As cancer survivors who were both treated here at Roswell Park, we realize how critical it is to raise awareness and help others as they battle this disease, which ultimately continues to help Roswell Park find a cure. Also, our experiences with cancer have encouraged us to maintain physical fitness and keep our bodies healthy, establish and maintain a close connection to the people who surround us and new friendships we establish from day-to-day and having a close connection with nature. We are very excited to experience all of the beauties of New York state.

Did you decide to do this together? 

Amy and I have established a precious and unique friendship since our introduction at the time of my diagnosis in May of last year. I guess you could say that we have been joined at the hip since we met. It’s funny because as tragic things happen in one’s life, you get to realize just how small and intimate this world really is. It turned out that Amy and I graduated from the same high school, Nardin Academy, only a year apart and we circulate amongst many of the same friends; however, we did not truly connect up until last year. We have become soul-mate friends, and we share and do many things together. This ride will be one of the biggest yet and a huge accomplishment for the both of us.

What is your history as a cyclist? Are you new bicyclists or have you participated in other events?

For the both of us, this sport is brand new. We have had to learn and train a lot to be able to sustain a ride of this magnitude. We are eager to continue our efforts and make it to the end, Niagara Falls.

How do you plan to fundraise for the ride?

We have a number of ideas and events that we are planning. We are planning a restaurant round-up week. People can eat at a selected venue and round up their bills to donate. We are hosting “Jeans Days” at some of the local grammar and high schools. We are planning an intimate cocktail party, a Sunday brunch and vendor spring fling event and some happy hours.

What do you hope to accomplish by raising funds and completing the ride?

Awareness, awareness, awareness!

What are you most looking forward to?

We hope to meet and connect with new people, establish new bonds of friendship, tell our stories to raised continued awareness, contribute to the cause and gear up for this tremendous challenge.

How would you encourage other Roswell Park employees — or just community members — to take part in this event? 

We encourage others that this ride is an inspirational and life-changing experience that will create new bonds and make the fight to cure cancer even stronger. We continue to talk it up and spread the word of continued awareness for cancer and the need to continue with efforts of cancer research to find a cure. Whether you are diagnosed with this disease or not, you are still touched by it through someone you know or are related to. It is devastating and truly touches and affects everyone, in one respect or another.

Post Category: Rider Spotlight