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ESR history

The History of Empire State Ride

The Inaugural Ride

What started as a personal promise to fight cancer has grown into a 300-rider adventure, paving the way for new discoveries and treatments. Here, you’ll relive the memories, relish the highlights and rejoice in the impact made over ten years of Empire State Ride.

2014: The First Solo Ride

This is the year ESR founder Terry Bourgeois turned his dream of riding across New York State to raise funds for Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center into a reality. He took on the 500+ mile adventure by himself, and despite obstacles along the way, he crossed his own finish line in Niagara Falls. So began a tradition unlike any other.

2015: Year 1

Number of Riders: 10

Dollars Raised: $55,000

Campsites:

Memorable moment:

“There were only 10 of us in 2015, so we had close tabs on each other. There were times when the crew loved it, and then there were some hills when I heard riders yelling my name, saying: ‘I’m going to kill him! This hill sucks!’ I took that as a lesson learned, and we eventually took out some of those hills. At the end of the ride in 2015, the concept of ESR was solid. From there, we had to press on and make it real.” – Terry Bourgeois, ESR founder

2016: Year 2

Number of Riders: 63

Dollars Raised: $252,000

Campsites:

Memorable moment:

“Wow! Not only were we back again, but we had 60 people! A significant memory from 2016 occurred during the training, working up to the ride. It was the day that Danielle Casucci (now one of my co-chairs) and her friend Amy showed up at my house along with three other women for a training ride. Danielle and Amy were recent cancer survivors; that day was Danielle’s first day out of the house without her wig. They had never ridden road bikes and just wanted to do this. That day, I realized what type of people would do the ride … anyone who set their mind to it was the answer to a question that had been nagging us for months.  Amy, Danielle, and everyone else did a fantastic job in 2016. It was in 2016 that I became even more convinced that this ride was going to change lives in more ways than one.” – Terry Bourgeois, ESR founder

2017: Year 3

Weeklong Riders: 84

Dollars Raised: $424,000

Campsites:

Memorable moment:

“There are SO many memories, but maybe my favorite was toward the end of Albany day my first year (2017). We stopped at this church on the route to see if we could use the bathrooms. They were having a farmers’ market in the parking lot, and Terry wanted so badly to buy corn and bring it to the Two Trees Catering folks. It was toward the end of a very challenging day and his joy over how good the corn looked took away all the anxiety of the miles that day.” – Tracey Maciejewski

2018: Year 4

Weeklong Riders: 114

Dollars Raised: $665,000

Campsites:

Memorable moment:

“I remember in 2018 we were on the biggest, baddest hill on the ride. All these people banded together and pushed the last rider up the hill. That was awesome. It’s a great example of the support on the ride because all these folks had been there for a while, waiting and waiting and helping the last person.” — John ‘Blue’ Hannon, ESR road warrior

2019: Year 5

Weeklong Riders: 142

Dollars Raised: $1.05 Million

Campsites:

Memorable moment:

“Finish line on Day 3 in 2019, at the top of the long hill up to Frosty Acres Campground. Spent hours cheering on people as they finished the toughest climb of the longest ride of the week in brutal heat. It was an infectious, great experience.” – Jim McDevitt

2020: Year 6

Dollars Raised: $706,000

The world turned upside down in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, Empire State Ride as we knew it had to be canceled. However, that didn’t stop the road warriors from doing their part in the mission to end cancer. Riders were instead encouraged to ride 500 miles on their own throughout July and take part in virtual activities at the end of the month when the ride was initially scheduled. Amid these unprecedented circumstances, the road warriors still raised $760,000.

Memorable moment:

After carefully monitoring COVID-19 case numbers, Terry Bourgeois saw a window of opportunity to host a small, socially distant ride to the ESR finish line on Old Falls Street. Approximately 20 alumni riders gathered in Western New York to ride the last leg of day 7, making their way from Lockport to Niagara Falls as a symbol of their steadfast commitment to ending cancer.

2021: Year 7

Weeklong Riders: 211

Dollars Raised: $1.6 Million

Campsites:

Memorable moment:

“This is my 8th Empire State Ride and my fondest memory is in 2021, adding the century ride.” – Steve Mars

First-time presenting sponsor:

2022: Year 8

Weeklong Riders: 195

Dollars Raised: $1.5 Million

Campsites:

Memorable moment:

“In 2022, one of the most memorable moments was attending the evening program in Weedsport and seeing the riders auction off the original gratitude band with proceeds from the highest bid going back to the ride.” – Anonymous

2023: Year 9

Weeklong Riders: 279

Dollars Raised: $2.1 Million

Campsites:

Memorable moment:

“In the weeks leading up to the 2023 journey, areas in the Hudson Valley experienced historic flooding, there were threats of smoke from Canadian wildfires that could impact the ride, and we had to take things one day at a time. Then, the final test came on day seven with heavy rains from Rochester to Niagara Falls. When we reached that finish line, the sun shone and tears of joy flowed.” – Terry Bourgeois, ESR founder

Check out our Empire State Ride
Flickr album with photos from all ten years.

[H1] The History of Empire State Ride

[H2] The Inaugural Ride

What started as a personal promise to fight cancer has grown into a 300-rider adventure, paving the way for new discoveries and treatments. Here, you’ll relive the memories, relish the highlights and rejoice in the impact made over ten years of Empire State Ride.

**insert 10 in 10 graphic**

[H3] 2014: The First Solo Ride

This is the year ESR founder Terry Bourgeois turned his dream of riding across New York State to raise funds for Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center into a reality. He took on the 500+ mile adventure by himself, and despite obstacles along the way, he crossed his own finish line in Niagara Falls. So began a tradition unlike any other.

[Video box: https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=647612573733086]                                  

[Button: The Start of Empire State Ride]

[H3] 2015: Year 1

Number of Riders: 10

Dollars Raised: $55,000

Campsites:

  • City Park, Stony Point
  • Unification Seminary, Barrytown
  • Frosty Acres Campground, Schenectady
  • Utica City Park, Utica
  • River Forest Campground, Weedsport
  • Spencerport High School, Spencerport
  • Finish Line, Niagara Falls Discovery Center

Memorable Moment:

  • “There were only 10 of us in 2015, so we had close tabs on each other. There were times when the crew loved it, and then there were some hills when I heard riders yelling my name, saying: ‘I’m going to kill him! This hill sucks!’ I took that as a lesson learned, and we eventually took out some of those hills. At the end of the ride in 2015, the concept of ESR was solid. From there, we had to press on and make it real.” – Terry Bourgeois, ESR founder

[H3] 2016: Year 2

Number of Riders: 63

Dollars Raised: $252,000

Campsites:   

  • City College NY, Harlem
  • City Park, Stony Point
  • Unification Seminary, Barrytown
  • Frosty Acres Campground, Schenectady
  • Utica City Park, Utica
  • River Forest Campground, Weedsport
  • Spencerport High School, Spencerport
  • Finish Line, Niagara Falls  Discovery Center

Memorable Moment: “Wow! Not only were we back again, but we had 60 people! A significant memory from 2016 occurred during the training, working up to the ride. It was the day that Danielle Casucci (now one of my co-chairs) and her friend Amy showed up at my house along with three other women for a training ride. Danielle and Amy were recent cancer survivors; that day was Danielle’s first day out of the house without her wig. They had never ridden road bikes and just wanted to do this. That day, I realized what type of people would do the ride … anyone who set their mind to it was the answer to a question that had been nagging us for months.  Amy, Danielle, and everyone else did a fantastic job in 2016. It was in 2016 that I became even more convinced that this ride was going to change lives in more ways than one.” – Terry Bourgeois, ESR founder

[Video box: https://youtu.be/CH3xGR2BtB8?si=wi3SC_nYZE52RVsF]          

[H3] 2017: Year 3

Weeklong Riders: 84

Dollars Raised: $424,000

  • Wagner College, Staten Island
  • Camp Bullowa, Stony Point
  • Unification Seminary, Barrytown
  • Frosty Acres Campground, Schenectady
  • NY Mills School, New York Mills
  • River Forest Campground, Weedsport
  • Spencerport High School, Spencerport
  • Finish Line, Old Falls St.
    • Memorable Moment: “There are SO many memories, but maybe my favorite was toward the end of Albany day my first year (2017). We stopped at this church on the route to see if we could use the bathrooms. They were having a farmers’ market in the parking lot, and Terry wanted so badly to buy corn and bring it to the Two Trees Catering folks. It was toward the end of a very challenging day and his joy over how good the corn looked took away all the anxiety of the miles that day.” – Tracey Maciejewski

[Video box: https://youtu.be/Aw0FY8lHU44?si=VqvT6_6DimUgeN34]           

[H3] 2018: Year 4

Weeklong Riders: 114

Dollars Raised: $665,000

Campsites:

  • Wagner College, Staten Island
  • Camp Bullowa, Stony Point
  • Unification Seminary, Barrytown
  • Frosty Acres Campground, Schenectady
  • NY Mills School, New York Mills
  • River Forest Campground, Weedsport
  • Spencerport High School, Spencerport
  • Finish Line, Old Falls St.

Memorable Moment: “I remember in 2018 we were on the biggest, baddest hill on the ride. All these people banded together and pushed the last rider up the hill. That was awesome. It’s a great example of the support on the ride because all these folks had been there for a while, waiting and waiting and helping the last person.” — John ‘Blue’ Hannon, ESR road warrior

[Video box: https://youtu.be/Dv9RPkUdFQ0?si=FLSDlPbTISMrss6i]                

[H3] 2019: Year 5

Weeklong Riders: 142

Dollars Raised: $1.05 Million

Campsites:

  • Wagner College, Staten Island
  • Camp Bullowa, Stony Point
  • Unification Seminary, Barrytown
  • Frosty Acres Campground, Schenectady
  • NY Mills School, New York Mills
  • Weedsport Speedway, Weedsport
  • Spencerport High School
  • Finish Line, Old Falls St.

Memorable Moment: “Finish line on Day 3 in 2019, at the top of the long hill up to Frosty Acres Campground. Spent hours cheering on people as they finished the toughest climb of the longest ride of the week in brutal heat. It was an infectious, great experience.” – Jim McDevitt

[Video box: https://youtu.be/F6vnmRS9t80?si=PMRfxdcP-Oge5ixZ]          

[H3] 2020: Year 6

The world turned upside down in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, Empire State Ride as we knew it had to be canceled. However, that didn’t stop the road warriors from doing their part in the mission to end cancer. Riders were instead encouraged to ride 500 miles on their own throughout July and take part in virtual activities at the end of the month when the ride was initially scheduled. Amid these unprecedented circumstances, the road warriors still raised $760,000.

Memorable Moment:

    • After carefully monitoring COVID-19 case numbers, Terry Bourgeois saw a window of opportunity to host a small, socially distant ride to the ESR finish line on Old Falls Street. Approximately 20 alumni riders gathered in Western New York to ride the last leg of day 7, making their way from Lockport to Niagara Falls as a symbol of their steadfast commitment to ending cancer.

[Video box: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M31-LZowso0]

[H3] 2021: Year 7

Weeklong Riders: 211

Dollars Raised: $1.6 Million

Campsites:

  • Wagner College, Staten Island
  • FDR State Park, Yorktown Heights
  • Dutchess County Fairgrounds, Rhinebeck
  • Shaker Heritage Site, Albany
  • Donovan Middle School, Utica
  • Weedsport Speedway, Weedsport
  • Ferris Goodrich American Legion, Spencerport
  • Finish Line, Old Falls St.
    • Memorable Moment: “The 2021 ferry ride from Staten Island. It was my first year in person. Although I’d been to Manhattan before, I hadn’t seen Lady Liberty. When she came in to view, that’s when I knew I was in for the best weeklong adventure I’d ever known.” – Shelley Unocic

[Video box: https://youtu.be/06KeRlkXN-U?si=8cRqEgdvpvnlmPOi]

[H3] 2022: Year 8

Weeklong Riders: 195

Dollars Raised: $1.5 Million

Campsites:

  • Wagner College, Staten Island
  • Somers High School, Somers
  • Dutchess County Fairgrounds, Rhinebeck
  • Shaker Heritage Site, Albany
  • Donovan Middle School, Utica
  • Weedsport Speedway, Weedsport
  • Ferris Goodrich American Legion, Spencerport
  • Finish Line, Old Falls St.

Memorable Moment: “In 2022, one of the most memorable moments was attending the evening program in Weedsport and seeing the riders auction off the original gratitude band with proceeds from the highest bid going back to the ride.”

[Video box: https://youtu.be/vCaFSlwhQ5c?si=0S1R5gnSfg8BH5mH]       

[H3] 2023: Year 9

Number of Riders: 279

Dollars Raised: $2.1 Million

Campsites: Wagner College, Somers Senior High School, Dutchess County Fairgrounds, Shaker Heritage Society, Donovan Middle School, Weedsport Speedway, Ferris Goodrich American Legion Post 330

  • Wagner College, Staten Island
  • Somers High School, Somers
  • Dutchess County Fairgrounds, Rhinebeck
  • Shaker Heritage Site, Albany
  • Donovan Middle School, Utica
  • Weedsport Speedway, Weedsport
  • Ferris Goodrich American Legion, Spencerport
  • Finish Line, Old Falls St.

Memorable Moment: “In the weeks leading up to the 2023 journey, areas in the Hudson Valley experienced historic flooding, there were threats of smoke from Canadian wildfires that could impact the ride, and we had to take things one day at a time. Then, the final test came on day seven with heavy rains from Rochester to Niagara Falls. When we reached that finish line, the sun shone and tears of joy flowed.” – Terry Bourgeois, ESR founder

[Video box: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fym0iFQCWUk&t=1s]         

Check out our Empire State Ride Flickr album with photos from all ten years.

[Button: See the photos! Collection: Empire State Ride (flickr.com)

Join us on the 10th Anniversary Ride!

Save the dates:

July 20, 2024, to July 27, 2024