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Team Roswell takes on Empire State Ride

Employees at Roswell Park serve cancer patients every day, but their commitment to the cause doesn’t stop there. Get to know these employees who are doing their part in the mission to end cancer by participating in the 2024 Empire State Ride.

Renier Brentjens — MD, PhD

Renier Brentjens

Title:

Deputy Director and the Katherine Anne Gioia Endowed Chair in Cancer Medicine at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center

Years doing Empire State Ride:

First year

Your ‘why’ for becoming an ESR road warrior:

As the Deputy Director and Chair of Medicine at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center for the last two years, we are highly dependent upon philanthropic funding to conduct our innovative research, which will ultimately enhance our ability to improve the outcomes and survival of patients at Roswell Park and beyond.  On the 10th anniversary of the Empire State Ride, my college friend from England, Richard Fulham, and I will participate in the Empire State Ride and ride 500-mile bicycle ride across New York State over seven days to move novel cancer therapies forward.

Describe ESR in one word:

Important

Megan Crawford

Megan Crawford --Team Roswell

Title:

Courage of Carly Program Coordinator

Years doing Empire State Ride:

Two

Your ‘why’ for becoming an ESR road warrior:

Each mile I pedal is a tribute to the strength and resilience of those battling cancer, especially the children and families I serve through my work with the Courage of Carly Fund, and to my uncle Jerry, who courageously battled colorectal cancer. I ride for them and for a world where no parent loses a child and no child loses a parent to cancer.

Message to a new rider:

Don’t doubt your ability to participate. You don’t truly know what you’re capable of until you try.

Describe ESR in one word:

Transformative

Michael Duff MD

Title:

Senior Network Systems Specialist

Years doing Empire State Ride:

Six

Your ‘why’ for becoming an ESR road warrior:

I ride for those who are in the battle now and for those who will enter the battle in the future. I ride to enable research to continue until we defeat cancer.

Message to a new rider:

Ride Safe! Ride Strong! Ride for Roswell!

Describe ESR in one word:

Impactful

Kara Eaton — MA, CPXP

Kara Eaton -- Team Roswell

Title:

Executive Director Patient and Family Experience

Years doing Empire State Ride:

Four

Your ‘why’ for becoming an ESR road warrior:

I was in the first ESR in 2015 and back then it was a way to challenge myself physically and mentally as well as support the mission of Roswell Park. I’ve been at Roswell Park for over 16 years and have met so many amazing patients and families. This year my ride is in memory of all the inspiring patients I meet on a daily basis. On a personal level, this ride is especially in honor of my late father who passed from lung cancer two years ago, and my late husband who passed away when I was on the first ESR.

Message to a new rider:

Stay strong stay motivated and keep riding with a purpose.

Describe ESR in one word:

Family

Patrick Emmerling — PhD, MBA, CLP

Title:

Director, Office of Technology Transfer and Commercial Development

Years doing Empire State Ride:

Four

Your ‘why’ for becoming an ESR road warrior:

I ride for my family members and friends who have/continue to fight cancer.

Message to a new rider:

Enjoy the ride! While challenging, the ESR is an amazing experience. You get to see the beauty of NYS from the seat of your bike and ride with some truly special individuals.

Describe ESR in one word:

Inspiring

Julia Faller — DO, MS

Title:

Chief Medical Officer

Years doing Empire State Ride:

Four

Your ‘why’ for becoming an ESR road warrior:

I participate in the Empire State Ride because I deeply believe in the important work of Roswell Park and the Alliance Foundation. The funds we raise through this ride go directly towards cancer research, which is crucial for finding new treatments and, hopefully one day, a cure. Cancer affects so many of us in various ways, and by supporting these organizations, I feel like I’m contributing to a cause that truly matters. This ride is not only about cycling; it’s about coming together to make a meaningful impact in the fight against cancer.

Message to a new rider:

Congratulations on making the commitment to ride. This is a warm and welcoming community. You will be forever changed by this experience. 

Describe ESR in one word:

Inspiring

Ryan Grady — CPA

Ryan Grady -- Team Roswell

Title:

Chief Financial Officer

Years doing Empire State Ride:

Two

Your ‘why’ for becoming an ESR road warrior:

I ride for those who can’t!

Message to a new rider:

If I can do it, you can do it!

Describe ESR in one word:

Surreal

Eileen Healy

Title:

Clinical Research Quality Assurance Coordinator

Years doing Empire State Ride:

Five

Your ‘why’ for becoming an ESR road warrior:

On both a personal and professional level, I see the toll cancer takes. I began working at Roswell Park in 1993, and have seen the incredible advances made since then due to the research taking place right here at Roswell. But there is so much more to do. I have worked with clinical trial patients as young as two months old and as old as 85 years old. I have also had loved ones who were patients at Roswell Park. There have been plenty of victories, but too often I have seen the permanent heartbreak that cancer leaves in its wake. We are not done yet in the fight against cancer!

Message to a new rider:

To a new rider, I would say: believe in yourself. You really do have what it takes to do this!

Describe ESR in one word:

Commitment

David Newman

David Newman -- Team Roswell

Title:

Executive Director of Capital Projects

Years doing Empire State Ride:

Six

Your ‘why’ for becoming an ESR road warrior:

I ride to support the mission of Roswell Park. As an employee of Roswell Park, I manage the design and construction of capital projects. I find it incredibly rewarding that the projects I manage help to support researchers and physicians in fighting cancer and bringing treatment and care to patients, many of whom are my family and friends.

Message to a new rider:

Enjoy the ride and have fun doing the serious work of fundraising!

Describe ESR in one word:

Inspiring!

Joyce Ohm PhD

Dr. Joyce Ohm dons a white Roswell Park lab coat in an office setting. She weighs in on ESR impact.

Title:

Department of Cancer Genetics and Genomics

Years doing Empire State Ride:

Six

Your ‘why’ for becoming an ESR road warrior:

I ride in memory of my mom, who died in 1985 of a rare sarcoma, and for my friend’s son Josiah who died this past August at at 13 of osteosarcoma. It is devastating to me that for 40 years there has been so little improvement in treatment for these patients. Too many lives lost and too many hearts broken.

Message to a new rider:

Just enjoy the ride. ESR will give you what you need out of it – if you let it.

Describe ESR in one word:

Hope

Fr. Joe Porpiglia — MDiv

Title:

Chaplain at Roswell Park

Years doing Empire State Ride:

Three

Your ‘why’ for becoming an ESR road warrior:

The community and the people you meet are always interesting and come from a variety of backgrounds. I have met some great people and heard very interesting stories. I have met people from my past who are a part of it and people from different parts of the country as well. I first started doing ESR because I thought it would be fun and interesting to do. I do it now for the community and wanting to raise money for cancer research.

Message to a new rider:

Pack as light as you can. There are a few rooms in hotels along the way but camping out is the best way. It is a supported ride so your tent and gear are moved for you. By staying in the tents you have more time to connect to people along the ride. One of my favorite things is taking the Staten Island Fairy into downtown NYC and then being able to ride through the city. Also, being able to ride along the Hudson and then being able to see different parts of New York State. The food that is provided is very good for the size of the group that is doing the ride. 

Describe ESR in one word:

Community or Challenge

Heather A. Ring

Heather Ring -- Team Roswell

Title:

Oncology Data Specialist II-Certified

Years doing Empire State Ride:

Five

Your ‘why’ for becoming an ESR road warrior:

My “why” for doing Empire State Ride started with needing a new adventure and a new accomplishment in my life, while raising funds for cancer as it has affected my family and close friends.

Message to a new rider:

For new riders I would say, you can do anything you set your mind to. That first year I never thought I could do the entire ride, and I rode every mile! One pedal stroke at a time. It doesn’t matter how fast you are as long as you  get there in the end.

Describe ESR in one word:

Family

Crystal Rodriguez-Dabney — Esq., LLM, CDP

Title:

SVP & Chief Diversity Officer

Years doing Empire State Ride:

This will be the first!

Your ‘why’ for becoming an ESR road warrior:

Cancer is an inclusive disease. It does not care who it attacks. But, it can have different impacts. Some of the stats are disturbing. I am taking on this challenge to help educate women from my communities on the benefits of early screening and detection and to highlight how Roswell is itself taking on the challenge to study these disparities and take cancer care into all communities!

Message to a new rider:

If you need a slow riding buddy, I’m your girl!! I am going to take each day one day at a time and my goal is just to finish!

Describe ESR in one word:

Impactful

Gretchen Zimmerman RN

Gretchen Zimmerman -- Team Roswell

Title:

RN, MSHS Clinical Informatics Team

Years doing Empire State Ride:

Three

Your ‘why’ for becoming an ESR road warrior:

This year marks my third Empire State Ride. My team and I pedal in support of Roswell Park and its crucial cancer research efforts, striving toward a future without this devastating disease. We ride not only for ourselves but for those who can’t.

Message to a new rider:

To new riders, I’d say, welcome to the Empire State Ride Family! You’re joining one of the most supportive groups of riders out there. And don’t forget about the incredible staff who make this journey possible for us each year.

Describe ESR in one word:

Awe-inspiring

Holly Bowser — MBA, CMPE

Holly Bowser

How can you help?

You can help move our mission forward by donating to one of these Roswell Park employees or any other ESR rider! Rider fundraising pages will remain open until August 31.