Share this article

print logo

Weeklong bike ride aims to roll over cancer

The Roswell Park Alliance Community Advisory Board was kicking around fundraising ideas a couple of years ago when talk turned to a weeklong bike ride from Buffalo to New York City. Terry Bourgeois took a 180. How about a ride that started in Manhattan and headed west to Niagara Falls? The Empire State Ride to End Cancer was born.

Bourgeois, a North Dakota native who moved to Western New York in 1999, made the first ride alone. Ten people participated last year and about 60 already have signed on for this year’s journey, which rolls from July 30 to Aug. 6. Those who put up $100 and raise at least $3,500 will show up in the Big Apple with a bike and a pair of overnight bags. A transport company will pitch tents and air mattresses for stops along the way, food will be provided and there will be at least a couple of special tours. One-day trips with $750 fundraising thresholds also are possible. Learn more at

“This can be a destination event, a lifetime experience, a bucket list item,” said Bourgeois, 53, Praxair Technology Center site director, and a co-director with the Ride for Roswell.

Q. What drives you to participate in Roswell causes?

I’ve had cancer in my family but what really propelled me to get engaged was coming out of the military, and arriving in Buffalo shortly after, I got engaged in some of the cancer events with Roswell. I was just in the military for 12½ years and I took an oath that I would uphold the Constitution of the United States and defend us against all enemies foreign and domestic. Then I stand here and see this enemy, cancer, taking out, or affecting, one in three women and one in two men, and I thought, “This is much bigger than any war that could exist.” There’s more people that are lost to cancer than in all the wars combined.

Q. Why have folks decided to do the Empire State Ride?

A common thread is people who are doing it because they want to stand up to cancer. Some are cancer survivors, and it’s a challenge for them, and a statement. Others have loved ones with cancer or have lost loved ones. It’s punching cancer back a little bit. From others, I’ve heard New York State was someplace they wanted to go. Riding a bike across the state sounds very attractive and appealing – and if you can do that and support a good cause, it’s a win-win.

– Scott Scanlon

On the Web: Read more about the Empire State Ride at