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The first year I did the Ride for Roswell, I was a rider. The second year I was a rider and an Extra Mile Club member. The third year, this year, I was a rider, an Extra Mile Club member and a Peloton participant. You could say that the ride got under my skin, and I am smitten.

I am smitten with the massive level of logistics and superior organization from detailing 11 different riding routes to organizing more than 8,000 riders to the route of their choice. I am smitten with the level of participation from riders coming from 30 states and ranging in age from 1 to 86. I am smitten by the 2,000 volunteers who prepare our team packets and keep us safe along the route, along with the dozens of policemen from the various municipalities who donate their time to control traffic as we bike throughout seven counties in Western New York.

Before we even get started on our bikes, I am moved and inspired by the stories of the cancer survivors and their commitment to ride on and show their strength. Who isn’t moved by the folks who have lost loved ones to the dreaded disease and raise money and ride in their memory? And this is to say nothing of the fabulous teams of doctors, researchers and medical personnel who devote their careers to finding the cure. It is to them that we donate so many of our millions of dollars so that they are provided with the most high-tech research equipment available in the field. Therefore, when I go on social media and send out dozens of emails, I feel no shame in asking friends and family over and over again to support my ride.

As Peloton riders this year, my husband and I had the privilege of raising more than $1,000 to qualify for this awesome and exciting experience. I am smitten with this experience because it started out at Roswell Park Cancer Institute in front of the patients’ windows. It allowed us to connect with the real heroes by holding up our memorial cards toward the windows and taking a moment of silent prayer asking for their recoveries.

I am smitten with how much fun I have biking on my route – chatting with people about why they ride, who they are riding for and other conversations that connect us for the cause. Resting at the rest stops generously staffed by the large Western New York companies who support the ride is an experience that exemplifies that Buffalo is truly the City of Good Neighbors. There, we commiserate with fellow riders over lots of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, water, Gatorade and other healthy snacks to replenish our energy. Those good neighbors can’t thank us enough for riding as we can’t thank them enough for their cheerful good will and hospitality.

Most of all I am smitten with the overwhelming sense of community in Western New York. The community that bears the distinction of having one of the highest rates of poverty in the country comes together for this one weekend in the end of June with such solidarity and determination to raise $4.3 million to support cancer research and one day put the folks at Roswell Park out of business. Right here in Buffalo, the Ride for Roswell is “the biggest single-day cycling event in North America,” according to The Buffalo News.

Next year, my fourth year, I will be a rider, an Extra Mile Club member, a Peloton participant and a volunteer. Please be there for me when I ask you to open up your wallets and donate to my Ride for Roswell.