The funds raised from the Empire State Ride have a real impact. But even more than that, participating in Empire State Ride leaves an impression on you – the fact that you are advancing cancer research for generations to come. Don’t believe us? Here’s what some past riders have to say about the experience.
If you ask Hulda why she chose to ride more than 500+ in a week, she’ll tell you that it started with a single reason: experiencing loss from cancer. From there, her reasons grew. She wanted to prove she could finish, set a strong example for her daughter and inspire her students. That last reason was a powerful motivator.
And that’s exactly what she did. She refused to sag. Even when her body was exhausted and it was hard to keep pedaling, she knew nothing in her life was harder than the obstacles she’d already overcome. She wanted her students to learn that same thing through her example.
“Courage is not the absence of fear. It’s that you’re afraid out of your mind, but you’re going to do it anyway,” she says. “Empire State Ride is truly transformational. I’ll never be the same person after experiencing this.”
As a bilingual teacher in urban education, Hulda works with students from different Spanish-speaking countries, many of whom faced adversity early in life.
“I want to teach my students about courage. I want to teach them about doing things for others and being in service of other people. It doesn’t matter how you grew up. All life obstacles are just fuel. You need to really take in life and go for it,” Hulda says.
On day three of Empire State Ride, Joe lost his water bottle to a bump in the road — for the second time. He turned around to reclaim it. When he remounted his bike, the chain came off. It had already been a long, tiring day, and he felt his frustration rising. That’s when a woman approached him with her young daughter.
The woman turned to her daughter. “Thank the nice man for riding to end cancer,” she said, motioning toward Joe, “because your mommy is a survivor.”
Those words served as a kind of mission moment for Joe. He instantly felt invigorated and connected to something bigger than a broken chain or lost water bottle. He remembered his friend, Ross, who had a courageous battle with cancer but ultimately passed away.
“I will always ride for Ross, and I will always ride for Roswell,” Joe says.
For road warrior, Erica, riding 500+ miles in a week didn’t appeal to her the way it appealed to her husband, Jason. Jason was an avid cyclist with six bikes and a heart of gold. He wanted to do good in the world, despite his battle with stage 4 bladder cancer. Sadly, Jason passed away before he had the chance to participate in the ride.
Though she had never ridden more than 40 miles at a time, Erica knew she needed to ride in her husband’s place. She worked hard to reach her fundraising goal and then hit the road in July. The miles weren’t easy. Sometimes the winds were strong, and the hills steeps. Despite it all, she persevered, feeling Jason with her every step of the way.
“The least I can do for Jason is to give back and continue fighting for people who don’t have a cure and still need one,” Erica says. “As long as I have lungs in my body, I will push myself, because he did not have that chance.”
Jim’s favorite part about Empire State Ride is the finish line experience. Nothing quite tops the cheers and shouts of the spectators as they usher in crowds of cyclists after a seven-day journey. There is nothing quite like that experience, whether you’re a seasons or novice rider.
“In a lot of ways, Empire State Ride is the exact opposite of a race in that the people who finish at the end get the biggest cheers,” he says. “That’s a really cool thing.”