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Holiday conversations & fundraising

The holidays are a great time to share with your family and friends that you’re participating in an adventure to end cancer with the Empire State Ride.

When you are asked the common questions like “What’s new?” or “Anything exciting happening?” that’s the perfect time to jump in and tell them about the Empire State Ride.

Start with the basics: when, where, why and how you got involved.

Talk about the training you’ll be undergoing, your compelling story about why you are participating and your fundraising goal. If they seem interested, provide the website address or, even better - give them your fundraising business card. We’ll send you more cards, so share them!

Take it to the next level and set a holiday fundraising goal! ("I’m looking to raise $1,000 before the end of the year, and I hope that you can help me.")

Remember, no donation is too small, and every dollar adds up to something greater than any one of us could accomplish alone. Happy holidays!

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.

5 Ways to Boost Your Fundraising on Giving Tuesday

1. Social Media

You can use social media to tell your story about the Empire State Ride – what inspired you to bike across New York State? How can your audience get involved in helping you meet your goal? We have created social media badges to post to your Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Use these images to grab people’s attention and then share your story. It’s also a great idea to link directly to your fundraising page so it’s easier for people to donate.
You can also use social media to recognize those who have already donated to your campaign. Tagging a donor in a “thank you” post will make them feel appreciated for donating.

2. Email

Sending an email to families, friends, teachers, etc. is a great way to reach out to people in your larger social network. Be sure to come up with a creative subject to grab your audiences’ attention- “Cycling against cancer!” or “I ride for Roswell”. Once you have grabbed their attention with the subject line, tell them your story about Empire State Ride! Ask them if their company will match their donation or if they can forward your email to their contacts. We’ve updating your Fundraising Dashboard with a Giving Tuesday template to help you get started!

3. Ask for specifics

Being specific when asking for donations is essential on Giving Tuesday. Most donors want to see their gift have a direct impact on the cause, so it’s important to promote the specifics about Empire State Ride in order to get the best fundraising results. Share this link or printed document with your donor audience to help them understand how their contribution can make a difference – Where the Funds Go . This ensures donors that their money is being put to the best possible use.

4. Track Your Progress

Make a goal for yourself on Giving Tuesday and create a goal tracker, whether it’s a thermometer or social media updates, create a way for people to see your progress. If people see your thermometer increasing rapidly, they might become inclined to join the excitement! Or if somebody sees you are only $100 away from your goal, they may be willing to help you meet it. This kind of transparency and interaction with the donors can really make a difference.

5. Encompass the Holiday Spirit

After all, this is the season of giving. Many people want to give back around the holidays and this is your chance to help them. Remind people of the holiday spirit and that their contributions will make a difference emotionally and spiritually to our patients, especially during the holiday season.

Click here for #GivingTuesday Resources!

Why should I register for the Empire State Ride?

How did you get here? (That wasn’t meant to be a philosophical question.)

Did you come upon some of the inspirational photos from last year’s Empire State Ride? Did you find us because you are looking for an awesome cycling challenge? Or maybe you are looking for a way to make an impact in the fight against cancer?

Whether you’re looking for your next adventure, your next way to make a difference or your next challenge, you landed in the right spot. In case you don’t already know about us, we’re the Empire State Ride. For the past three summers, we’ve gathered a bunch of passionate cyclers for a one-of-a-kind cycling adventure across New York State with one mission: to end cancer.

Last year, more than 100 participants raised a half-million dollars for cancer research at Roswell Park Cancer Institute. This year, we want to make an even greater impact with a goal of raising more than $1 million.

If you’re looking to be a part of something bigger than life, you should add the Empire State Ride to your bucket list. Why? Just watch this testimonial from one of our ESR veterans, Eric Worral.

Meet Charlie Livermore: ESR Trainer on the Road!

The Empire State Ride is committed to making sure its riders have a safe and enjoyable journey across New York State. That’s why we are proud to have a professional cycling trainer amongst the ranks of the 2017 Empire State Riders.
Meet Charlie Livermore!

Charlie has 30 years of knowledge and experience in the sport of cycling, which he uses to coach cyclists at Carmichael Training Systems. “Of all of the positions I’ve held in cycling, none gives me more pleasure than coaching,” said Charlie in his coaching bio. “The ability to change people’s lives gives me great satisfaction.”

Each night during the ride, Charlie will share his expertise with our Empire State Riders, giving them tips they can use as they embark on their next leg of the 546-mile trek. He will also be riding alongside them each day!
Not only is Charlie extremely knowledgeable in the sport of cycling, but he is also a cancer survivor. This makes him the perfect person to give sound advice and support to all of our riders, who are cycling across New York State with one mission: to win the fight against cancer.

How can I ride 500+ miles?

Can you ride 500+ miles in 7 days? If you can ride 85 miles in one day, and are committed to the challenge, I think you can. It won’t be easy, but with the right mindset, smart, consistent training and good hydration/fueling habits, you’ll be surprised what you can do.
Let’s break it down.

Mindset – 500 miles!

We have all heard the saying, “Eat the elephant one bite at a time” when dealing with a large task, goal, or project.
It’s easier to wrap your mind around riding 500 miles if you think of the Empire State Ride as a series of 7 one day events. Breaking that down even further, the question becomes can I ride 30-45 miles to a lunch stop and 30-45 miles after lunch for 7 days? Take it a step further and break the ride into even smaller sections – from the start to the first hydration and feed station, then from there to lunch, then to the next station and finally to the finish.
With this approach, 500 miles seems much more doable. And remember, there’s no rush, you have all day. For a week you have the full support of an excellent crew and nothing to do but eat, sleep, ride and repeat. You can do it!

Training – Train Right!

Thinking about 500 miles one small bite at a time makes it less daunting, but you still have to prepare your body to withstand the demands of the event. The training plan blue print provided on the ESR website is a great guide to help you get to the start line at your peak fitness. Follow it as best you can and remember this, consistency is your #1 priority. As a famous cyclist likes to say, “Ride as much or as little or as long or as short as you feel, but ride!” – Eddy Merckx
One other thought I’d like to share that falls under training is bike fit or biomechanics. You’re going to spend a lot of yours on your bike. Get a bike fit from a certified fitter and maximize your comfort and performance. Body Geometry Fit from Specialized or RETÜL Bicycle Fit Technology are two reliable systems.

Hydration and Nutrition – This will make you or break you!

Your ability to repeat 50-85 mile rides over seven days depends on how well you hydrate and fuel your body every day.
If you can ride 80 miles one day, what stands in the way of doing it again the next? Not drinking and eating enough!  Keeping your body hydrated and your fuel reserves loaded every day is the key to repeatability.
I can’t stress the importance of this enough. Start hydrating as soon as you wake up, and eat a solid breakfast with plenty of carbohydrates. Then while you’re riding, understand that you are drinking and eating for tomorrows ride. This is the primary difference between performing for one day vs. seven. If you make a fueling mistake in a one day event, you’ll suffer the consequences in the last hour. If you make that mistake in a multi-day event you’ll suffer all day tomorrow. Keeping your fluids levels and glycogen stores full is critical! Aim to drink all your liquids between each stop and enjoy the great snacks and lunch that the ESR support team provides every day.
The nutrition support the crew at ESR provides will make this easy. Everything is taken care of for you. Catered breakfasts and dinners designed for endurance athletes, great food, drinks and morale support at the rest and lunch stops makes it easy to stay fueled and ready to go.
I look forward to seeing you all there!
Coach Charlie Livermore
Charlie is a seasoned riding coach from CTS Training and will be along for the entire Empire State Ride this summer. 

Meet 2017 Empire State Rider Guy May

One of Guy May’s friends was always known for asking, “What’s your next adventure?” Last month, that friend passed away after a battle with cancer.
In her memory, Guy’s choosing the Empire State Ride as his next adventure — in hopes his efforts will help scientists develop new treatments for those who are battling.

Q: How did you find out about the Empire State Ride?
I found out about the ride last year while looking for a long distance ride that would fit into my summer work schedule. Unfortunately, it didn’t fit. But I did not forget about it and after 20-plus years working as a sailing instructor, I have decided to take some time off in the summer and the Empire State Ride came to mind.

Q: What inspired you to sign up?
Around the time I retired from my summer job I was informed that a dear friend at work had been diagnosed with both pancreatic and lung cancer. She was an outgoing person who loved an adventure so thinking of her and both my parents who died from cancer I thought it was the right thing to do. My friend lost her battle last month so I am even more inspired to go on this adventure for her. As she would say, “What’s your next adventure?” The ESR is mine.

Q: What is your history as a cyclist? Have you ever done anything similar to the Empire State Ride?
I have never done a ride like the Empire State Ride before. I started really riding about five years ago when I purchased a used bike on eBay. Since then, the bicycle bug has gotten hold of me. A few bikes later and a few thousand miles later, I am hoping I am ready for the ride.

Q: How are you fundraising for the ride?
I have been reaching out to all my friends and they have been fantastically supportive. I cannot say enough how lucky I am to have friends like mine. We all have been touched by cancer and the outpouring of support has been inspiring.

Q: What do you hope to accomplish by raising funds and completing the ride?
My hope is that the money I raise will help our generation and future generations find cures and treatments for cancer. There are so many people suffering due to cancer we need to find ways to relieve some of their pain.

Q: What are you most looking forward to about the ride?
I am looking forward to the ride itself, seeing the state at a bicycle’s speed, and meeting new people that share the love of bicycling.

Meet First Time ESR Rider Jenine Trzewieczynski

Before signing up for the Empire State Ride, the longest bike ride Jenine had completed was 35 miles. So what’s inspiring her to set out on a 500+ mile journey?

How did you find out about the Empire State Ride?
I work for the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation, which organizes the Empire State Ride.

What inspired you to sign up?
I am inspired every single day at Roswell Park to do something. In my role with the Foundation, I often meet patients. Their fortitude, optimism, kindness, and incredible acceptance of hope inspires me daily.
Terry Bourgeois, the founder of the ESR and a dedicated ambassador for Roswell Park, spoke at an Alliance meeting last fall and shared a video from the 2016 ride. It took only that short video for me to know that this was the something I could do on my own way to feel I was able to offer support and hope for each of these incredibly strong, courageous people I have met, and will continue to meet, who are enduring their fight against cancer.

What is your history as a cyclist? Have you ever done anything similar to the Empire State Ride?
Other than some leisure rides around the neighborhood with my dog joining along in a milk crate, I have not done anything of the sort. I did ride the one-day 35-mile Tour De Farms this past August in Buffalo.

How are you fundraising for the ride?
I’m using Facebook, writing letters, emailing old contacts — just good old fashioned asking! I am also making a $1,000 gift myself to my fundraising efforts.

What do you hope to accomplish by raising funds and completing the ride?
I hope to provide a little hope and support — if even for just a moment — to someone battling cancer. I already know the funds raised will support the incredible, pioneering research that takes place at Roswell Park Cancer Institute. It is very easy to fundraise for Roswell Park because I know each dollar raised is critical, respected, and well spent.

What are you most looking forward to about the ride?
I am looking forward to meeting incredible people inspired to do something good. I’m looking forward to sharing an adventure with like-minded individuals — raising money for an incredible cause, incredible organization, a most important mission. And I’m looking forward to the adventure of one hell of a ride — I have no idea what I’m really in for!

Genetic Test Funded By Your Support

Lung Cancer Fighter Finds Hope – With Your Help

Kathy Kait is an active 70-year-old woman. She walks at least three miles every day, rides her bicycle often, and does yoga. She eats healthy, makes smoothies for breakfast, and she doesn’t smoke.
So when she began noticing some minor symptoms — like fatigue and shortness of breath — she didn’t think too much of them.
“I was running up the stairs carrying laundry and noticed that I had to stop and catch my breath,” she said. “I felt otherwise OK, so I thought I might have a cold or pneumonia.”
She paid a visit to her doctor, who did X-rays. But instead of pneumonia, he found numerous tumors in her lungs and lesions on her skull. She was told she had lung cancer — and that the disease had already spread.
Understandably, Kathy was shocked.
“I was feeling pretty healthy overall, and there isn’t a lot of cancer in my family,” she said. “My mom died in her 90s and my dad died in his 80s, so I was thinking I had a lot of time ahead of me and that I was going to be able to enjoy retirement and spending time with my five grandchildren.”
An initial genetic test of Kathy’s tumor came back negative, meaning that new, cutting-edge treatments weren’t an option. As she began radiation and chemotherapy, Kathy tried to keep her spirits up — but as a retired nurse practitioner, she knew that the prognosis for lung cancer was bleak.
After a few rounds of treatments, her doctor suggested they retest her tumor with a new, more sensitive genetic test that had been developed at Roswell Park. The one-of-a-kind tool, called OmniSeq Target™, looks for cancer-causing mutations that can be targeted with personalized drugs that are more effective than traditional therapies like radiation and standard chemotherapy.
Many insurance companies weren’t covering the cost of OmniSeq Target™ yet, though, because the test was relatively new. Thankfully, the money raised by individuals like you provided the necessary funding so that all patients who could benefit from the test, including Kathy, had access to it.
For Kathy — and more than 600 other patients — your participation in the Empire State Ride has made all the difference. OmniSeq Target™ revealed that Kathy’s tumor did have a mutation, and that it could be targeted with a new treatment that would likely do a better job of keeping her cancer at bay: a once-a-day pill that she could take at home.
“When I got the test results, I was absolutely ecstatic,” she said. “My perspective completely changed. I went from having little hope to having new, magnificent hope.”
She’s been on the new treatment for more than a year now, and her most recent scans showed that her tumors are shrinking.
“I’m just so grateful, and I feel great,” she said. “I might not live until I’m 93 like my mother did, but because of this treatment, I’m enjoying the time that I do have. I’m thankful for the riders and the donors who helped make this test possible. There is so much exciting research going on at Roswell Park, and that makes me hopeful.
Scientists at OmniSeq, a Roswell Park partner, have further advanced the OmniSeq Target™ test to identify even more actionable gene mutations for certain types of cancer and save more lives. Thanks to the dollars that covered the cost of the new OmniSeq Comprehensive test, scientists have been able to justify its value to insurance companies, resulting in broader coverage for Roswell Park patients.
You can help the world-class scientists at Roswell Park develop other exciting treatments for patients like Kathy. Sign up to join us on the Empire State Ride or kickstart your fundraising today.

proceeds directly benefit