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Life’s Big Surprise: Ted and Lauren’s Journey Through Life, Cancer and the Ride for Roswell

Spend two minutes chatting with Ted Rung and Lauren Suriani, and you’ll come to one conclusion – they are totally and completely in love with each other.

These Buffalo natives first met snowboarding at Holimont in 2006. After chasing each other around the slopes, they were hooked. Snowboarding has continued to be a huge part of their relationship – the pair even work at a ski resort in Vermont, where they also live full time.

When asked to describe her favorite thing about Ted, Lauren is ready with a thousand compliments.

“It’s his ability to overcome and rise to any occasion. He is one to always lend a helping hand,” she said. “My friends call him their stand-in boyfriend because they rely on him. Anyone can call him and he will help out – whether that’s jumping a car or something more serious.”

And Ted is ready, too.

“Lauren pushes me,” he said. “I have had a lot of down time with doctors’ appointments and sitting around waiting, not feeling great. She is not one to sit around. She pushes me to get up and do something, whether that’s going for a ride or just getting off the couch.”

Ted is a three-time cancer survivor, which means their relationship and love have been put to the test. But they always come out on the other side – stronger than ever.

Ted's Cancer Journey

Cancer first appeared in Ted’s life when he was 21 years old. In 2009, he found a lump on his testicle. Following a physical, his treatment was surgery to remove the tumor followed by surveillance at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center. Because of how simple and quick the procedure was, Ted didn’t take it too seriously.

Over the next eight years, he continued to make the six hour drive from Vermont for his checkups at Roswell to ensure he was cancer-free. But in 2017, he started putting off appointments and even went a year and a half without a visit.

So on a random Friday when he finally went in for a simple bloodwork test, he knew something was up when the doctors ordered a CT scan based on his results.

He had the scan Monday with Dr. Levine, and immediately, the doctors saw three tumors. The biggest one was against his kidney and was restricting its function. Ted’s cancer was back.

Right away, he and Lauren began figuring out a game plan. Because of the support of their families and because of Roswell Park, the pair decided that Ted would receive treatment in Buffalo. That meant a six-hour drive three to four times a month.

Sometimes, Ted would drive six hours, have his appointment, then turn around and drive back home. But to receive the best care he possibly could, it was worth it.

Ted’s treatment plan included three rounds of chemo followed by a major surgery called RPLND, which opened him up from sternum to pelvis. The surgery was successful, and after five days of care Ted’s pathology came back clear.

Ted rang the victory bell at Roswell Park – the same day as Hockey Fights Cancer – in 2017. He said it was a crazy, beautiful moment ringing the bell surrounded by cheers from all floors of the hospital.

After that, he was under close surveillance and went back every six weeks for checkups. Before long, a CT scan revealed a nodule on his thyroid. Doctors closely monitored the growth until it was big enough to biopsy. It was thyroid cancer.

For the third time, Ted turned to Roswell Park – this time to Vishal Gupta, MD, and team at the head and neck clinic. He successfully had his thyroid removed and a round radio iodine treatment, and now comes back every six months for more checkups.

Stronger Together

Both Ted and Lauren have been through a lot over the course of their relationship. How does Ted deal with it?

“I guess I have gotten good at dealing with with things as they come. But it was hard,” he said. “Every little thing makes you second-guess if you’re healthy or not, and it can weigh on you. But you have to trust the doctors and worry about what they tell you to worry about.”

For Lauren, it has been extremely difficult watching Ted go through this. But her advice is to keep living.

“You have to be resilient because it can take you right down with it,” she said. “You learn very quickly that two words out of a doctor’s mouth can change your life. Dr. Levine even told us, ‘I am about to turn your world upside down.’ He sure as hell did.

“But you learn to enjoy the big and small moments. And laugh at everything instead of getting angry.”

That piece of advice is how this incredible couple has gotten stronger despite everything life has thrown at them.

“In 2017, a month before my second diagnosis, we started to build a garage. It was supposed to take two months. But with chemo and having a major surgery, it took much longer. But we didn’t stop working on it. We asked for help when I couldn’t do it alone.” Ted said.

“We kept living,” Lauren echoes. “[Cancer] stops you in your tracks, but you can’t stop completely. It’s so hard to deal with it. But the only way to deal with it is to keep going.”

Ted's Road to the Ride

“Surviving cancer is just as hard as fighting it. You go through all these appointments, all these people paying attention to you, and then you’re on your own. You go about your day. You make it through and you move on, but you really don’t. [Because] it’s always there. So seeing all these people participate and support it … it’s just a good feeling,” Ted said.

Lauren feels the same.

Last year, Ted decided to keep going and participate in the Ride for Roswell. His challenge – tackle the 100-mile century on Ride Day. He was inspired by his father, who rode for him the first year after his diagnosis, as well as the team Lauren’s brother-in-law leads, Buffalo Eats.

So he started training whenever he could. And he crossed that finish line on June 22 looking like a pro.

“I guess I didn’t realize the gravity of the situation until the last few miles. I got pretty emotional about what I accomplished. Before that, I hadn’t ridden a bike since I was 15. I put a lot of work into it. And seeing my name painted on the road – it was awesome,” Ted said.

It was an emotional day for Lauren, too.

“I had my big sunglasses on, and I didn’t take them off because I was crying behind them. Cancer forced me to keep moving forward. Sometimes you keep everything inside. So you have these big moments, and you have this release of emotions. It was incredible,” she said.

And for Ted, knowing that people jump on their bikes every year for patients like him means the world.

Ted and Lauren are both planning on participating in the Summer of the Ride. Ted has his six-month follow up appointment at Roswell Park at the end of June, so they will ride a couple times throughout Buffalo. They will also continue to ride throughout Vermont. If you’d like to support their efforts, support Team Buffalo Eats here. 

“The reason we come back to Roswell is because of the support and the sense of community it has brought to our lives,” she said. “I couldn’t see us going anywhere else. They saved Ted’s life – how do you say thank you for that? That’s why we try to ride and raise money to give back. It’s something I will be thanking [them] for, for the rest of my life.”

Spirit Week 2020 Is Here!

UPDATE 3/16/20

Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, there are several updates to this year’s Spirit Week.

Please read below carefully for all the changes.

It’s officially March, which means it’s time for Ride Spirit Week! This year’s Spirit Week is taking place from Saturday, March 21 through Friday, March 27.  Get ready for a week packed full of Ride activities and fundraising contests to get everyone excited about Saturday, June 27. Here’s everything you need to know.

Sunday, March 22

**POSTPONED**

Rev for the Ride at Revolution Buffalo

Please stay tuned for details on this event.

MONDAY, March 23

Team Recruitment Challenge

Calling all teams — get ready to recruit! Teams that recruit 10 or more members by Friday, March 27 at 5 p.m. will be entered to win a team tent on Ride Day with a special delivery from Sabretooth! And for this week only, we are waiving the $20 registration fee for anyone that signs up! Use code RFRSpirit at registration.  We understand that times are tough and we want to make sure that anyone who wants to ride this year can – so let’s grow those Ride teams! 

Tuesday, March 24

24-Hour Fundraising Challenge

For this fundraising challenge, you have 24 hours to collection a donation (or 2 or 3!) of any amount! That’s right – it doesn’t matter if it’s $10, $20 or $50. Any donation that is made to your fundraising page counts as an entry. If you do, you’ll be entered to win 25th anniversary merchandise. Donations must be made online within the 24-hour time period (12 a.m. – 11:59 p.m.) in order to be eligible. 

Wednesday, March 25

**CANCELED**

Kickoff at Buffalo Riverworks

**To follow local regulations and for the safety and health of our Ride community, Kickoff is cancelled. Although we can’t physically be together, we can still celebrate and get excited for this year’s Ride with a Virtual Kickoff! Follow us on social media to tune in.**

Thursday, March 26

Bike Safety Check Day

Today’s the day to get your bike ready for warm weather and Ride Day. First, take it out of storage. Then, do our ABC check – examine your air pressure, brakes and chains to make sure everything is good. Finally, drop your bike off at one of our local bike shop partners for a tune up.

Friday, March 27

Gear Day

Bust out your favorite Ride T-shirt or jersey and spread Ride spirit all around Buffalo! Post a picture on social media and use the hashtag #rfrgearday. Let’s fill Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with the colors of The Ride.

Spirit Week is all about getting ready for the 2020 Ride for Roswell.

With only a couple months left until June 27, we are so excited! Don’t miss out on all the Spirit Week fun – register today!

Dr. Johnson’s 6 Favorite Things About the Ride

Ride Weekend is one of my favorite times of the year. While 2020 marks the 25th anniversary of the Ride, I personally will be participating in my 18th ride! Since 1996, the Ride for Roswell has become a signature summer event for this community.

Everyone, whether you’ve been to the Ride once or 24 times, finds their favorite moments of the weekend. Those moments that keep you coming back every year and remind you of the true purpose and reason why you’re there.

Here are just a few of my favorite things about the Ride for Roswell. Maybe you share some of these special moments as your favorites with me.

CELEBRATION OF HOPE

I’m excited to see the Celebration of Hope back in the UB Stadium this year! I look forward to seeing the Peloton’s emotional kickoff from Roswell Park, watching the riders arrive to the crowd’s cheers at UB, and being part of the procession of patients, survivors, doctors, nurses and caregivers. What a joy it is to celebrate hope with so many people who have found it here at Roswell Park in one form or another.

THE TORCH

The torch, the creation of longtime volunteer leader Chris Eberle, symbolizes the spirit of hope that lives at Roswell Park. We light it during the Celebration of Hope for all who find hope at Roswell Park and in tribute to everyone we’ve lost, and it remains lit through the final rider passing the finish line. This year, we’re planning a special torch lighting ceremony to commemorate each person who makes the Ride so special. It’s going to be a can’t-miss moment of Ride Weekend.

THE FINISH LINE

This is a place of personal victory for many on Ride Day. So every Ride Weekend, I pause for a moment at the finish line. I look down at the road running beneath the arch and read names painted in bright colors: riders who are also cancer survivors. Spelled out before us, the reason we ride and the reason we work hard every day. The reason our research continues to be important. The reason we must continue our quest to end this disease. I think of every person who crosses that finish line, and I am grateful for each one and for what we’re making happen by doing this together.

THE TEAMS

The creativity, love and support that go into each team is astounding. Everyone at the Ride has been touched by cancer, and most teams ride in honor or in memory of someone in particular. Whether that’s a parent, grandparent, brother, sister, child, best friend or co-worker, the Ride has become a day to celebrate life and those we love. While I may be a bit biased, my favorite team is Team Roswell. As team captain, I would personally like to invite anyone in the community to join Team Roswell and ride together with us to end cancer.

THE KIDS

Is there anyone on earth as happy as a child riding a bike? It makes my heart happy, too, especially to know that they’re getting their first taste of the difference they can make in the community and what it means to give to others. Throughout my years participating in the Ride, I’ve had a front row seat to watch some children grow into adults and continue to Ride and make a difference.

THE ENERGY

It’s like a living thing. People are excited to be together on this pursuit to end cancer, laughing or crying over a shared memory, or proud of their triumph in getting here today. The Ride brings us together in a rare way, unites us in a goal to end this horrible disease, which we can only do together. For those who’ve lost loved ones, this is a place like no other, where so many others understand exactly what they’re going through.

The difference we’ve made in the lives of cancer patients and their families is truly amazing. The Ride has helped fund work like our cutting-edge immunotherapy studies; HLA testing to find bone marrow donors for patients; and quality of life programs that bring art into our patients’ lives here at the hospital, provide free wigs to patients, support music in the lobby, provide wellness programs like massage and yoga, help with certain financial costs and much more.

I look forward to celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Ride for Roswell with you in June!

— Candace Johnson, PhD

Route Guides – They Guide So We Can Ride

This blog was written by Thomas Johnston, Special Events Operations Manager, in conjunction with the February volunteer newsletter. 

Route guides make a big difference at the Ride for Roswell. Since that very first Ride in 1996, route guides have been helping direct and assist cyclists along all of the routes in 14 communities, 3 counties, and 2 countries!

Route guides volunteer for one or more four hour shifts, serving at more than 300 critical intersections. They arrive equipped with safety vest, flag, maps, and some basic first aid supplies. As cyclists approach, route guides wave them in the correct direction, and will halt bicycle traffic as needed. Sometimes they work with police at the same corner, sometimes they are on their own. Route guides also offer a friendly face and some much-needed directions for cyclists who may feel that they are off course. In emergencies, route guides will call Ride HQ for help, and they call 911 for immediate emergencies. Route guides are also an extra sets of eyes, ears, and hands on the routes. Grateful cyclists will tell you that the route guide corps makes the Ride stand out as a premier cycling event.

The Ride is now seeking route guides for several intersections in Amherst, Clarence, Akron, Newstead, Buffalo, the Tonawanda’s, and even in Canada.

Give us a call at 716-843-7433 to learn more.

-Thomas Johnston, Special Events Operations Manager

6 Ways to Make the Most Out of Your Volunteer Experience

This blog post was written by Jill Citron, Guest Services Coordinator, in conjunction with the February volunteer newsletter. 

As a Ride for Roswell Volunteer, your time and effort help create a great experience for our riders and guests. You are absolutely essential for a great Ride Day!

But did you know there are ways to improve your own volunteer experience? Here’s how. 

Be Open-Minded About Shifts

As nice as it is to sleep in on the weekend, some of the Ride’s most active and rewarding volunteer opportunities happen early! This means that late-morning volunteers can sometimes be disappointed that there isn’t more to see and do. The best way to be part of the Ride during prime time is to consider an early morning assignment.

Understand Your Position

Take the time to really understand the position you are signing up for. Do you mind standing for long periods? Being out in the sun or rain? Do you have physical limitations, like difficulty walking, a need to be sitting down or can’t lift heavy boxes? Carefully check the details of your preferred assignment and make sure you are able to fully participate. If not, look for an assignment that better suits your abilities. Need help? Contact Dawn Hu, Volunteer Coordinator, at 716-845-1055 or Doug Citron at 716-570-4900 for assistance.

Stay For A While

Once you’ve completed your assignment, your experience doesn’t have to end just yet. There is so much to see and do during Ride Weekend. Check out the moving ceremonies at the Start Line, or Join the crowd at the Finish Line and cheer our riders’ home! You can also enjoy a delicious lunch, vote for the best Team T-shirt, or visit friends in their tents. 

Be Sociable

During Ride Day, make an effort to meet new people and listen to their stories. You’ll be amazed at all the incredible people who participate in this event every single year. 

Share Your Thoughts

When the Ride is over, we want to know your thoughts! What worked? What didn’t? What ideas do you have for making things better?

Your input is much appreciated and will help future Ride volunteers have the best possible experience.

Come On Back

As soon as Volunteer registration opens in 2021, sign up again for your favorite position and bring your family and friends, too!

-Jill Citron, Guest Services Coordinator at the Ride and Quality Assurance Supervisor at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center

The First Ride for Roswell

This blog post was written by Mitch Flynn, Founder of the Ride for Roswell, in conjunction with the February volunteer newsletter. 

Every year of the Ride has had a moment, person or image that captured the feeling of the day for me. On June 29, 1996, that was an 11-year-old kid named Katy DiGirolamo.

About two weeks before that first Ride in 1996, someone at Roswell told me she’d heard about a pediatric patient who was raising a lot of money. All I knew about her was her name, Katy Di-Gi-something, and that she was riding the 9-mile route. All six or so of us on the Steering Committee” (it wasn’t called anything back then – we just showed up and ate pizza and guessed at what we needed to do) were still in the mode of “ya’ think anybody’s gonna’ show up for this thing?” So, hearing that a Roswell patient was not only riding but also raising money gave us a little buzz. It felt like lottery advertising: “Hey, you never know.”

That First Ride

I rode the 33-mile route that year and took my camera. Back then, the routes converged on Audubon, so I detoured through Walton Woods hoping to get a glimpse of this fabulous little fundraiser. It was already late in the morning and I only saw a few other bikers on this last stretch of the route, so I was afraid I’d missed her. But when I exited back out on to Audubon, I caught sight of a very big guy in a sweat-soaked T-shirt riding behind a very skinny little girl in an impossible-to-miss, red-white-and-blue sequined outfit (her mother had made it for her especially for The Ride). She was riding a tricycle and her bike basket was covered with cutout paper hearts, which were covered with the names of her supporters. This kid had style.

“Are you the DiGirolamos?” I asked. I think they were a bit surprised to have a “serious biker” come out of nowhere and know who they were.

I asked if they minded if I took some pictures of them coming into Baird Point.

“No problem,” Dad Jim said.

So I shot the last mile or so of their ride, watching in amazement as this big guy rode up behind his bald and tiny daughter, extended his leg, and launched her trike forward. She actually said “wheeee” each time and was clearly having a ball while her dad was soldiering on. He must have pushed her that way for most of the 9 miles – an act of blood, sweat, and tears.

Katy’s mom, Beth, was anxiously waiting on Frontier just before the turn on to St. Rita’s, a little American flag in her hand, which matched her daughter’s outfit. Seeing her there was like sounding the bell lap – before I knew it, the two of them were around the corner and picking up speed before veering off across the lawn towards the registration / lunch tent. Jim got off his bike and just about collapsed on to the grass – give that man a massage! (I’m not 100% sure but I think we may have had a single very busy masseuse at Baird Point that year.)

Afterwards, I took more photographs of Katy meeting former Sabre Rob Ray and Channel 4’s Jacquie Walker (one of that year’s honorary chairs) and being presented with a Sabers jersey as The Ride’s top fundraiser. She was our first Extra Mile Club member before there was even an Extra Mile Club! If you look at the images closely, you’ll see more than a few people dabbing at the corners of their eyes. One of those heart-in-your throat moments I know we all experience on the last Saturday in June.

Fast forward a few weeks later, I went out to their home in Angola with a tape recorder and the pictures from Ride Day. We looked at the shots together and I asked them if they remembered how they felt at the time. When the picture of Katy being honored for her fundraising came up, Jim said, “Never will there be a prouder moment in my life than that.”

What came out of that chance encounter, those pictures and that visit was a slide show (some of you may remember those, many will not) that got converted to a video and shown at All Star Night that year – first proof that The Ride was for real. (If you’re interested, you can watch it on YouTube here

-Mitch Flynn, Founder of the Ride

The Ride’s Local Bike Shop Partners

Here are the Ride for Roswell partner bike shops which provide support to riders at the start lines and on the routes. Be sure to visit them before the Ride for bike safety check, tune ups, and solid advice.

Click on any of the bike shops listed below to view their hours and locations, and learn about their products and services. Tell them you are a Ride for Roswell participant and ask if they offer any discounts.

Fundraising Tips for Your Personality

Personalities – we all have them. Some of us are adventurous, confident, dependable or even imaginative. Depending on your personality, you can use it and your interests to make the most out of your fundraising efforts for the Ride.

If You're Sociable

Throw yourself a fundraising event. You’re your best self when working a room filled with your closest friends and family. Why not use it to help your fundraising efforts?! Turn a party you’re already planning, like a birthday or an anniversary, into a fundraiser. Instead of receiving gifts, ask everyone to make a $10 contribution to your Ride fundraising page.

If You're Resourceful

Ask about a matching gift program at work. There are so many resources available to help your fundraising efforts and you’re the type that wants to use them all. Matching gifts are a great way to double your donation. Many employers offer programs that match employee’s charitable donations dollar for dollar. To find out if a company has a matching gifts program, review our matching gifts page. If you don’t find your employer’s name, contact your HR department for more information.

If You're Talkative

Head to social media. You’ve got a voice and it’s time to use it! The benefit of social media is that it’s quick, easily shareable and you can use a mix of images and videos. This gives you many opportunities to explain why this cause means so much to you and get those donations rolling in.

If You're Techy

Download our fundraising app. This app is a one-stop shop for all your fundraising needs. You can send emails, integrate with Facebook, update your profile and goal, thank your donors and more. With all the capabilities available to you at your fingertips, you really don’t need anything else. Download it in the App Store or Google Play.

If You're Quiet

Email is your best friend. We get it – sometimes it’s easier to express yourself through the written word. Luckily, email is a great way to communicate with your donors because it allows you to tell the story in a way you’re comfortable with. Social media is also a great option, but using email allows you to personalize your message for each person. 

While fundraising can be challenging, it’s fun tailoring your efforts to your personality. And remember:

  1. It takes more than one ask to get someone to donate, so don’t be afraid to ask more than once. In fact, we encourage it!
  2. Every little bit helps.
  3. If you need something to aim for, check out this year’s Rider Rewards.

Ride Through the Years

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then this week’s #25tales will be a long one! Since 1996, thousands of do gooders have jumped on their bikes every summer to change the future. They’re mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, grandparents, friends, significant others and more all ready to do their part in the fight against cancer. This is their story – in pictures!

Check out this slideshow of the last 25 years.

We are truly appreciative for this incredible community for the love and support – we couldn’t do it without you!

connect with us!

CONTACT

office address

Elm and Carlton Streets
Buffalo, NY 14263

phone number

716-THE-RIDE
716-843-7433

Important info

RIDE FOR ROSWELL 2021

Saturday, August 7

EVENT LOCATIONS

University at Buffalo
Grand Island, West River Parkway
Buffalo Outer Harbor
Niagara County Community College
Buffalo RosRoll

PROCEEDS DIRECTLY BENEFIT