Allison Joseph of Troy, New York is a lifelong lover of cycling. Over the years, while on her rides, she noticed something was missing.
“I didn’t see any women who looked like me. I thought about it, and I said, ‘There is no way I am the only woman of color who is interested in cycling.’ So, I set out to find my people,” said Allison.
She started the Capitol Region chapter of Black Girls Do Bike, an organization with 100 chapters worldwide.
Monica Garrison, the founder and executive director of Black Girls Do Bike, explained each chapter has naturally been drawn to different health causes.
“I think we all know that getting on the bike and cycling regularly can help stave off diseases and conditions that affect our community and people of color disproportionately,” Monica said. “It’s almost a no-brainer to want to do something to get in the fight and help these causes.”
That message resonates with Allison.
“Black Girls Do Bike is a community of women who encourage women, especially African American women and women of color, to cycle,” said Allison. “Whether it be for fun, function or fitness, we just want you to get on a bike and enjoy riding.”
Becoming an ESR Road Warrior
Allison has participated in other endurance cycling events and says she’s always looking for a challenge. When she found Empire State Ride, it was a perfect way to align two of her passions: cycling and the cancer cause.
“So many of my family members have been hit with cancer. I’ve watched them go through the struggle,” Allison explained. “This was my way of doing something.”
With an understanding of Roswell Park’s impact on the world of cancer research and treatment, Allison knows every dollar she raises is serving a greater mission.
“If it doesn’t help someone today, it’s definitely going to help someone tomorrow and in generations to come. It keeps the research going. Technology is constantly changing, and we need money to fund that research.”
It’s also been proven that for every dollar donated, Roswell Park can leverage an additional $13*** in new grant funding. For Allison, that’s even more reason to come back for #ESR23.
“It makes me more motivated to not only do this again but push myself and push my limits even harder to raise even more money.”
*** For years, we’ve told you that your $1 donation can turn into $13 in external funding for cancer research. Now, we’re proud to announce that your $1 donation is now creating $23 in funding. This is thanks to your incredible support and the hard work Roswell Park researchers put in every day to advance new discoveries. Read more about this change.
The ESR Community
No rider at ESR is alone. Allison experienced that firsthand during #ESR22. Last year, she joined the ride about halfway through in Albany. For 2023, she will be taking part in the entire seven-day adventure.
“There is a support system that is equal to none that I see,” said Allison. “The volunteers anticipate all your needs. For example, one day, I didn’t even notice that there were some screws loose on my bike, and I turned around and a volunteer was there to fix it.”
Allison also cherishes building relationships with riders from different walks of life.
“Everyone is so friendly and helpful – the energy! I got to meet some incredible people and talk to them about their why and share my why. There are some people who are retired. There are some professionals. There are some young people, so it’s pretty incredible being exposed to all of that diversity.”
Getting Ready for #ESR23
For people who might be nervous about joining the movement this year, Allison says, “Just do it!”
She encouraged utilizing Coach Charlie Livermore’s training plans customized to the ESR experience. Going into #ESR23, Allison says she plans to train longer and harder, with “attacking the hills” at the top of her agenda.
Allison hopes her involvement not only makes a difference in the mission to end cancer, but also sends a message to other women of color.
“Representation matters. For Black Girls Do Bike to be out here representing, it means a lot. It reminds people that we are out here, and black girls do indeed bike and black girls do indeed do a lot of the things that it’s typically believed we do not do.”
As she prepares to challenge herself again this summer, she’s keeping the cause close to her heart.
“Roswell Park has done so much for the community. It has done so much for cancer research, and this is my way of giving back.”