Search Empire State Ride

Rider Spotlight: John Heimback

On June 24, 2017, John Heimback was having lunch with his friend Mark and discussing one specific question: “Should we do the Empire State Ride?”

“Are we doing this or not?”

“Let’s do it!”

Earlier that day, John found himself riding The Ride For Roswell’s Metric Century Route alongside some of the 2016 Empire State Riders. They welcomed him wholeheartedly and shared their stories and motivations for riding.

He also got to share his story. You see, riding to end cancer is nothing new for John. He has been an active participant in The Ride For Roswell since 2004. He joined his family’s team, the Rainbow Riders, after his aunt received treatment at Roswell Park Cancer Institute. Not long after his first Ride, John received a cancer diagnosis of his own.

John underwent surgery and treatment for stage III papillary thyroid cancer in early 2005, and was back on his bike for The Ride that June. He has continued participating in The Ride every year since and even joined volunteer committees.

In 2015, after a year of monitoring and testing, he was diagnosed again – only this time, it was prostate cancer. He underwent surgery, and it was this second experience with cancer that inspired him to join the Empire State Ride the following summer.

We asked John why he participated in the Empire State Ride, and his answer was inspiring.

“Why not? I’ve been blessed to survive cancer two times,” said John. “So the least I can do is give my time and effort and raise money to support cancer research. And right now, it’s through these events that I can participate and do something. It’s not a question of why. It’s a question of why not.”

In October 2017, John visited Roswell Park again — this time, to ring the victory bell to celebrate being cancer free! He was even joined by some of his fellow Empire State Riders as he rang the bell loud and proud to celebrate his survivorship.

“I want to inspire people. Even if it’s just one person who might say ‘because of you, I didn’t give up,’” said John. “I want to share my story and do these events to show that you can go through a whole lot, but you can take that and move forward and do something with it.”

If you’re now asking yourself “why not,” then register today and join the Empire State Ride to end cancer!

Why should you donate to an Empire State Rider?

We can think of a bunch of reasons to donate to an Empire State Rider! The real question is “how much time do you have?”

The short answer:

Many of the projects that have the potential to find cancer cures and save lives may not have the opportunity to flourish without support from people like you. This fall, over $1 million dollars – a portion of which came from donations to the 2017 Empire State Ride – was awarded to 14 of the most promising preliminary cancer research projects at Roswell Park!

The long answer: 

When you donate to an Empire State Rider, the funds go to Roswell Park Cancer Institute and are managed by the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation. (Read more about these organizations on our Cause Page.) On average, every dollar donated to Roswell Park leads to an additional $13 in new grant funding!
These funds are critical to allowing Roswell Park scientists to develop new treatments. They also provide the resources needed to bring the research done in the labs to the clinical settings where it can benefit patients the most. The benefits can be felt around the nation! For instance, a phase II clinical trial for a brain cancer vaccine is helping patients at four other cancer centers across the country, including Cleveland Clinic and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. The study is being funded entirely by donations.
The funds raised by the Empire State Ride aren’t handed out freely. Twice a year, Roswell Park faculty compete with each other by submitting research proposals to the Alliance Foundation’s Scientific Advisory Committee. This objective committee reviews internal proposals and awards grants to projects that show the most promise for finding cures and saving lives.
To learn more about the 14 research projects that recently received funding, click here.