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How ESR impacts cancer research across the nation (and the globe)

If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you’ve committed to riding Empire State Ride this year or you’re thinking about tackling this adventure of a lifetime soon. ESR has strong New York ties, particularly Western New York, the home of Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center. 

But what if your out-of-state donors or your prospective donors don’t have those same ties? Maybe they’ve never stepped foot in Buffalo, but they’re passionate about finding cures for cancer or they’re simply interested in supporting endeavors you’re passionate about.  Maybe you’re from out of state and are looking for a way to explain your impact. 

Here's what you can tell donors about the impact you’re making through ESR.

1.

When you make a gift to support Roswell Park through ESR, you’re ultimately making a worldwide impact.

Through regional, national and global collaboration, the funds that come to Roswell Park go into efforts that will change the way we prevent, diagnose and treat cancers of all kinds everywhere. After all, we’re all on the same side in the fight against cancer.

Rider holds gratitude banner with all her loved ones on it and the ESR sign in the background

2.

Donations fuel cancer research at Roswell Park. That research can be done by small local teams or larger, collaborative teams.

Either way, if the studies bring incredible discoveries (as they often do), that research leaves the lab and enters the realm of clinical trials which expand to reach patients everywhere. Still other research contributes to growing pools of data that scientists all over can learn from as our experts at Roswell Park make sense of what they’re finding hidden in our genes and in our immune systems.

A sign honoring loved ones affected by cancer

3.

Many clinical trials at Roswell Park are funded by donor support.

While every trial starts small, careful study brings those trials to patients in Western New York and then beyond. Clinical trials reach cancer centers all over, meaning they reach patients all over, bringing those promising treatments to people who are searching for hope in the toughest times of their lives. International partnerships in clinical trials have brought treatments developed by Roswell Park investigators to Australia, Canada, Cuba, China and beyond.

ESR rider holds sign at finish line in Niagara Falls

4.

The comprehensive cancer center in your region may have collaborated with Roswell Park on lifechanging work.

One easy way to start looking into that is through a simple search on Roswell Park’s website and the website of your local center.

Rider points to the back of his jersey, which honors loved ones affected by cancer

Looking forward

East coast, west coast, northern or southern hemisphere; any effort to better understand and more effectively treat and cure cancer is good news for all of us. Thank you, wholeheartedly, for joining us in this mission to end cancer as we know it. For good. Everywhere.

Curious about where the funds go?

ESR road warrior Dr. Joyce Ohm weighs in.

Your fundraising for Empire State Ride has a significant impact on cancer care and treatment at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center. Few know that better than four-time ESR road warrior Joyce Ohm, PhD, Interim Chair of Cancer Genetics and Genomics. Not only is Dr. Ohm out on the road every July with Empire State Ride — fighting hills, weather and fatigue as she bikes from Staten Island to Niagara Falls—but she’s also in the lab at Roswell Park, fighting to find cures for all types of cancer. 

 

We sat down with Dr. Ohm to ask a few questions and learn more about the impact of the funds raised through Empire State Ride.

Joyce stands side by side with a fellow road warrior at Wagner College this past July.

Q: Tell us a little about yourself and your role at Roswell Park.

A: I’m a scientist at Roswell Park, so I’m someone who does research for a living. This is what I do, and it’s what I believe in. It is amazing to see riders put a tremendous amount of trust in us — it really is a special, amazing thing to think about. I cannot imagine what it must be like as an oncologist to say to a patient, ‘I don’t have anything else for you.’ As researchers, that’s our job: We’re there to put new tools in the toolbox. The dollars that go to Roswell Park fund that, especially in three key areas.

Two ESR riders smiling

Q: How has cancer treatment changed over the years?

For 20 years, we had chemotherapy and surgery and radiation. For some patients, that’s all we have still today. But there are new therapies being developed. It’s amazing to watch, just in my short career, how much everything has changed. In fact, we’ve reached a point where we’re really treating individual patients, not cancer as a whole, and that has added years to many patients’ lives.

Q: What are those key areas where the funds go?

A: First, they fund genetic testing and the development of new genetic tests — to help us decide what therapies might work best for our patients and to cover the costs of those tests for people who cannot afford them. The research world is completely different now, and how we treat patients is completely different. Now, we often make decisions about treatment based on genetic markers.

The second place the money goes is to clinical trials. New drugs and new therapies go through a rigorous testing process that takes many years and millions of dollars to get to clinic. We have tons of tools in our toolbox, especially for the more common cancers like breast and lung and colon. But for those rare cancers, like osteosarcomas and pediatric tumors, we don’t have new drugs for patients yet, and we’re working really, really hard to get them. A good chunk of the money raised for ESR goes to fund clinical trials, specifically to help patients who run out of other options. It goes to research teams who are asking cutting-edge questions, who are developing new therapies, who are learning more and more about tumors every day and who are learning how to treat individual patients. All of those dollars really, really pay off.

Then, we bring in federal support, pharmaceutical support and support from outside to really help make those dollars grow. And so, the impact of the dollars raised at Empire State Ride makes a tremendous difference for our patients.

Q: So, what does the future of cancer treatment look like?

A: Immunotherapy, including a really huge area of research at Roswell Park called CAR T-cell therapy, is making tremendous strides for our patients in every disease site that we’ve tested it in. We expect to see impressive changes in the next five to 10 years. There are new targeted therapies every day. So, every time we learn something new about a tumor, we’re able to start to think about ways to treat that and target it. New drugs are in development to achieve that.

Q: How does that all tie back to Empire State Ride?

A: Cancer touches all of us in many, many ways. When you think about what someone with cancer is going through today, you realize that what we struggled with on the road for Empire State Ride is nothing. 

But the fundraising is everything, and it’s making a difference.

Q: What does outside support look like?

Statistically, for every dollar that we raise through events like the Empire State Ride, we’re able to match that by $13*** from external funding, from federal sources and other places. If every dollar that comes in gets magnified by 13, you can start to imagine the tremendous impact that we can have.

I see riders every day and tell them, ‘Those dollars matter. Those $5, $10, $20 donations are going to turn into cures, and they’re going to save lives.’”

*** 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

Thinking about joining Dr. Ohm on the road in 2023? Join our mailing list to learn more.