Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Ride For Roswell - June 23, 2012

This past weekend I participated in my first Ride for Roswell event to support Roswell Park Cancer Institute. I can't take credit for the idea to participate, because quite frankly, if you told me I'd ride 20 miles on a bike a year ago, I would have laughed in your face. 

Back in high school I got into a biking accident. I was scarred physically, but even more so mentally. I refused to get back on a bike again. More than ten years later (in 2011), my boyfriend and I spent the day on Toronto Island. He wanted to rent bikes to take around the island, and, very reluctantly, I agreed. We took it slow, and with virtually no traffic, and nice paved roads, I was okay. After the day around the island I returned the bike and had no intention of getting back on one, or purchasing one for myself. 

A few months later, as I was putting together my "12 Missions in '12" campaign, my boyfriend suggested we participate in The Ride for Roswell as a way to raise money and awareness about Roswell Park. It took me a long time to agree to it, but finally in March 2012 I signed up. When I signed up I didn't have a bike, or any experience biking 20 miles in one outing, but I was determined. 

I've blogged about Roswell Park before, but it bears repeating that we are so fortunate in Buffalo to have the expertise and facilities at Roswell Park. They truly are making a difference in the fight for cancer. Having lost family members and friends to cancer, my mission to raise money for the organization ran that much deeper!

The event day of Saturday June 23rd snuck up on me quickly, and to be honest, I never practiced a full 20 miles of riding. I woke up with a lot of nervous energy and wanted to get going. We arrived to UB North around 8am and were anxious for our 9:30am start time. 

I need to point out, that in all my years of fundraising and event planning, the Ride for Roswell was BY FAR, the best run event I have attended. Every part of the event ran smoothly and I can only imagine the amount of coordination that event took (with over 8,000 riders and 2,000 volunteers). From the breakfast tent, to the repair tents, to having people walking around spraying you with sunscreen if you forgot, they covered all their bases, and did it flawlessly. 

When they began to call our 20 mile route to line up, we were close to the front of the group. The opening ceremony was outstanding and really geared me up for what was ahead. We started exactly on time at 9:30am. Things started off great. The volunteer road guards were incredible. There were people there to guide us at every turn of the ride and they cheered us on. It really made the entire 20 miles go by quickly. When we arrived at Niawanda Park, I honestly couldn't believe I had biked that far. We stopped at a rest stop, and in less than an hour had already completed 10 miles. 

The rest stops were loaded with food and drinks; we refueled and off we went. I can't say that the last 10 miles were as easy as the first, but it really was not bad at all. My boyfriend (a much more experienced bike rider) would get ahead of me, and eventually hold back until I caught up with him. I had a blast chatting with people as we rode. People were so friendly, and on an absolutely gorgeous day in Buffalo, everyone was in good spirits.

As I rounded the final turn with my boyfriend, and could see the finish line in sight, tears flooded my eyes. I missed my Grandma Carol Sondel who passed away from pancreatic cancer in 2001, and I was so proud of myself. We crossed the finish line just before 11:15am. As we hopped off our bikes and walked to grab something to eat, I was filled with such a sense of pride and accomplishment. 

Our team, "Lovin' On Buffalo", raised $1200 for Roswell Park. What a tremendous accomplishment! While it pales in comparison to what many other teams brought in, for our first time, the four of us (Geoffrey Testa, Aimee & Pierson Bell, and myself) did a great job! 

In total Roswell Park raised an incredible 3.7 million dollars to fund programs, treatments and equipment. Over 8,000 people rode in the event. If you want to talk about a sense of community, Saturday June 23rd was it. In true "City of Good Neighbors" fashion, we came out strong to support one of our greatest assets in Buffalo. 

To me, the Ride was about more than raising money and awareness for Roswell Park. To me, the Ride meant letting cancer know its days are numbered. It meant letting patients know we are there for them. It was a way to honor those who have died from cancer. To me, the Ride meant overcoming a fear that had plagued me for more than a decade. Probably most important though, the Ride reminded me that it is so important to find something you believe in and fight for it. I believe in Buffalo, and I believe in Roswell Park. Now, I believe I can bike too!

Thank you to everyone who supported my Ride and those who encouraged me to bike.  I need to especially thank my boyfriend Geoffrey, who inspired me to get on a bike and make a difference in Buffalo! 

The countdown to next year's event is already on. Maybe I'll even do 30 miles next year!

If you are looking for another personal story about the Ride for Roswell, check out my friend Bryan's post about his journey this year! (title is "The Longest Mile"). 


  1. Great post Krystal, My wife and I started "Riding" for Roswell after her remission from breast cancer 5 years ago, we plan on riding for this cause for a very long time.

  2. Did the 44 mile ride this year and this was my second year. I'll tell you what, you'll be a participator in some way for life after the first time. I was so moved by what a response this amazing organization gets and for every dollar they raised, they got 7 from other grants that are funding their research. Thank you for participating. My family, who has been served by the people of Roswell many times, also thanks you.