SOMEONE YOU SHOULD KNOW
Nicole Cooke is familiar with Roswell Park Cancer Institute. When her grandfather, David Oldman, was being treated for pancreatic cancer, she and her family became well acclimated to Roswell over the years.
“My grandfather was treated at Roswell Park when he was undergoing his therapy for pancreatic cancer, and that started about 2009, so we spent a lot of time at Roswell Park,” said Cooke, a resident of East Aurora.
During her time spent at Roswell, Cooke learned about The Ride for Roswell, and after her grandfather’s death in 2011, she decided to give back.
“After he passed away, it seemed like a way to contribute back to Roswell, which provided him so much comfort,” Cooke said. “[It] was a way that could bring our family comfort because we knew that they were able to help more people.”
Cooke first participated in The Ride for Roswell last year, where she raised slightly more than $2,000.
“Initially, I really had no idea what kind of response I was going to get, so when I first signed up, I set my goal at $150,” she said. “I beat that in the first day, so I figured, ‘OK, obviously this is going to be a lot bigger than I thought.’ … I was amazed at the response.”
This year, Cooke has set the bar even higher with hopes of raising $3,000 before her ride on June 28. So far, she has raised $1,095 — 37 percent of her goal.
A photographer and a digital media coordinator by profession, Cooke has taken to her talents to support her cause.
“I’m actually running a little contest where people, in exchange for a $10 donation, can be entered to win a photo shoot with me,” she said. “I’m hoping to come up with a couple other little fundraisers, like maybe teaching a [photography] class, which is actually what I did last year. I was able to charge admission and donate 100 percent of the proceeds back to Roswell.”
For Cooke, though, she remains motivated by the ride itself, as she will once again tackle the 45-mile route.
“A big part of why my grandfather even lived as long as he did is because he was in really amazing shape because he rode his bike every day,” Cooke said. “He was really big on cycling just for fun, but to stay healthy and exercise. … We always rode bikes with him.
“He had to undergo a major surgery when they first diagnosed him, and they expected him to have a really long recovery period,” she said. “He didn’t, and they really attributed it to the amount of cycling that he did because he was in such good shape.”
Those interested in donating to Cooke’s Ride for Roswell cause can find her rider page by searching “Nicole Cooke” at rideforroswell.org under the “Donate” tab.
“It’s most meaningful to me because it feels like a way to give back to a place that provided a lot of support, not only for my grandfather while he was sick, but for my family,” Cooke said. “They really go above and beyond for people in this community and I think it’s important for us to give back to them and show how grateful we are for everything that they do.”
(Story ideas for this feature can be sent to the East Aurora Bee, 5564 Main St., Buffalo, NY 14221, or by calling 204-4918.)