Team Roswell: Fourth Quarter Lookback

Something incredible happens when a small group of committed people come together around a shared mission to end cancer. With sweat and dedication, small efforts often blossom over time. Nothing highlights that better than the examples below.

Each of these events started with a common goal to make an impact in the fight against cancer. Thanks to the commitment and hard work of each event coordinator, each event raised more than $10,000 for Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center.

1. Bridget's Battle Band Jam

On November 28, event coordinator Tom Schuh hosted a battle-of-the-bands at Buffalo RiverWorks to benefit the Angel Fund at Roswell Park. The event raised $10,000 and honored Tom’s wife, Bridget, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008 and passed away in 2014. The event has been ongoing since 2010. Read more.

2. Strength, Tone and Stretch Class

On October 26, the team at Buffalo Rehab Group came together to host a fitness class that raised $10,020 for breast cancer research at Roswell Park. Lead by Stephanie Loveless, participants gathered at Powerhouse Buffalo to move through the motions as they stretched, strengthened and toned their way to cancer cures.

3. F Melanoma Golf Tournament

On October 1, event organizer James Skelton and fellow golfers teed up to drive out melanoma at the Chestnut Hill Country Club. The inaugural golf tournament raised $10,865.43 for the melanoma research at Roswell Park. Melanoma is a serious form of skin cancer that develops in the pigment-making cells that give skin its color.

4. Holiday Hockey Showcase

On November 23, the Buffalo Professional Firefighters Local hosted a hockey tournament that raised $11,060 for Roswell Park! Community members gathered together on Thanksgiving Eve for a fun-filled night of hockey, music and vendors. Games were played by members of The 11 Day Power Play, the Buffalo Fire Department and the Buffalo Police Department.

5. Karen Kovach Basket Raffle

On November 3, Paul Kovach hosted a basket raffle at St. Benedict’s School in Eggertsville to raise money for breast cancer research at Roswell Park. The event honored Karen Kovach, who lost her 16-year battle with breast cancer in 2021. The event raised $12,200 for the cause.

6. Lindsay's Legacy 5K

On November 12, a group of runners gathered at the Eldredge Country Club for a 5K race around the City of Tonawanda to raise funds for the Courage of Carly Fund. The event, hosted by Frank Mariani and team, raised $15,500 for children faced with cancer and blood disorders. Now in its 16th year, Lindsay’s Legacy 5K honors Lindsay MacIver, who lost her battle with alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma in 2004, at age 21. Rhabdomyosarcoma is a cancer of muscle, tendon, cartilage or bone.

7. Traphagen's Trail Ride 4 Brain Cancer

On October 15, Shannon Traphagen and her team hosted the second annual Traphagen’s Trail Ride for brain cancer research at Roswell Park. The charity bike ride in Hamburg, NY, raised $22,680 for the cause! Shannon Traphagen began the event in 2021 to fight back against brain cancer following the loss of her husband. Read more or listen to Shannon’s podcast.

These are just a few of the hundreds of unique fundraising events you can host to support cancer patients at Roswell Park. Every event makes an impact.

Have you tried something different that you love and want to share?

Salsa for A Cure: Bringing the zest of dance and music to fundraising

To date, “Salsa For A Cure” has raised more than $28,000 for patient care service at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center.

When you think of salsa, it’s easy to envision the music, dancing, bright colors and energy. When you think about cancer, it likely brings up opposite emotions. But here in Buffalo, community members have found a way to use the vibrancy of salsa to make a difference in the lives of people living with cancer.

“Salsa for A Cure,” an amateur dance competition, took place on September 16, 2022 at Pucho’s Social Club. The event is a fundraiser for patient care services at Roswell Park.

“I figured, if I had an event that featured Spanish music, especially for Hispanic Heritage Month, we would get more people to learn and be more aware about the different cancers,” said Maritza Vega, “Salsa for A Cure” chairperson.

According to Maritza, one of the primary goals of the event is bringing joy to those who may be suffering due to cancer.

This is a photo of Maritza Vega, the Salsa for A Cure chairwoman
Picture shows four Salsa for a Cure judges standing beneath a Puerto Rican Hispanic Day parade flag. They are dressed in red on event day.

“Making people happy: It’s a way of wellness,” she explained. “I chose ‘Salsa for A Cure’ because I knew that people, when they came to this event, were going to be happy. They were going to be willing and ready to contribute.”

Dinorah E. Santos agrees. Dinorah is a past board member of the Hispanic Heritage Council and she currently handles public relations for the Hispanic Heritage Cultural Institute.

“Come for the music. Come for the drinks. Come for the vibes and the energy,” Dinorah exclaimed while being interviewed at the event.

When asked about the significance of “Salsa for A Cure,” Dinorah said the amateur dance competition is a great symbol for Hispanic and Latino culture — and the diversity within those communities. “It just shows how this culture can be enjoyed and appreciated by everyone, especially in a time where we just spent so much time behind closed doors in our homes away from others [due to the COVID-19 pandemic]. Here, everyone is just coming together and appreciating the culture.”

The fundraiser was put on in coordination with the Hispanic Heritage Council of Western New York, the Pucho Olivencia Center, the Puerto Rican and Hispanic Day Parade, Baila Salsa and many more community partners.

To date, “Salsa for A Cure” has raised more than $28,000 for patient care services at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center; however, Maritza believes the event can make an even bigger impact! She hopes to see the fundraiser continue to grow for years to come.

We all have the tools to make a difference in the lives of cancer patients. For anyone looking to start their own fundraiser, Maritza offered, “It takes people to come together and make it happen.”

Salsa for a Cure Photo Gallery

Body image shows four people from Salsa for a Cure holding a check that's being donated to Roswell Park. All donations from the event benefit patient care programs.
This photo features a couple dancing at Salsa for A Cure
Picture shows four Salsa for a Cure judges standing beneath a Puerto Rican Hispanic Day parade flag. They are dressed in red on event day.
This photo features a couple dancing at Salsa for A Cure

Riding for hope: How one woman turned loss into a lifelong mission

Shannon's story

Shannon Traphagen vividly remembers the day her husband Mike hopped on his bike and cycled 20 miles — just six weeks after having brain surgery. At his next radiation appointment, the entire staff at Roswell Park applauded his efforts and greeted him with high-fives. When Mike finished radiation and rang the bell marking his last treatment, his doctors and nurses rallied around him.

Though Mike succumbed to brain cancer after 14 months, Shannon will never forget the knowledge and compassion of the Roswell Park staff. They walked the couple through treatment options, let them know what to expect and brought in specialists when needed. To this day, Roswell Park continues to exceed Shannon’s expectations.  

“The staff and community at Roswell Park continue to rally around me as I grieve the loss of my husband. They hold me close and support me on my new journey. There is immense value and strength in that kind of support,” Shannon says.

A trail ride in Mike's honor

Shannon's bike ride luncheon
Shannon's bike ride

Last year, Shannon started the Traphagen’s Trail Ride 4 Brain Cancer in the Village of Hamburg to honor her husband’s legacy. The inaugural event offered a 5.5-mile and 10-mile bike route to riders and benefitted brain cancer research and treatment at Roswell Park. The event raised almost $11,000 in just six weeks.

Shannon relied on the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation, sponsors, vendors and her staff to put the event together and hit her fundraising goal. The Alliance Foundation, through the Team Roswell program, helped her plan and create promotional materials while media coverage from WIVB Channel 4 helped her spread the word to recruit riders and encourage donations. 

Her advice to anyone looking to fundraise is this: Start early, plan in advance and be strategic.

“Create a Facebook events page, use LinkedIn and Instagram, make a personal video message letting people know why you are holding your event. These things will give you the best chance at hosting a great event!” she says.

Finding the light

Shannon's bike ride participants laughing

Shannon doesn’t plan to stop after the inaugural ride. After serving as a caregiver and experiencing such a difficult loss, she wants to help others who are walking a similar path. That involves raising funds and awareness for brain cancer to give others a better chance at beating the odds. It all comes down to inspiring hope.

“Hope is a powerful thing. Don’t ever lose it — even in your darkest days — because you never know where the light will come from and how it will shine down on you,” she says.

Learn more about how to start your own fundraising event

What We Can Learn from Shooting For A Cure!

Imagine This

Picture a packed gym decorated with balloons and streamers — all pink. At center court, the Pembroke girls’ basketball team dons pink jerseys with a pink basketball in one player’s hand. The crowd is silent as a player shares the story of a loved one over the loudspeaker. When she’s done, she places a pink rose into a vase alongside other pink and white flowers, representing survivors and those lost to breast cancer.

At the end of the night, it’s not about who wins the game; it’s about an entire community coming together for a cause. And it’s been that way for eleven years.

“Our mission started off as a kind gesture in support of a community member as she battled breast cancer,” says Mike Wilson, a special education teacher and event organizer. “It was a pure act, done out of love. Eleven seasons later, we never could have imagined what this game would become.”  

Shooting For A Cure! started in 2011 after coach Ron Funke discovered his wife had been diagnosed with cancer. The girls’ basketball team wanted to show their support by hosting a game in her honor as she underwent treatment. Shooting For A Cure! has since raised more than $225,000 for breast cancer research and care at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center.                                                              

“Our team, our school and our entire community is working toward finding a cure for cancer. We value service, and we will continue to do all we can in support of those in need,” Mike says.

The Secrets to Success: Sweat and Passion

The Secrets to Success: Sweat and Passion

When we asked Mike what it took to bring an event like Shooting For A Cure to life, his answer was simple: hard work. The planning process begins long before event day, and everyone (players, families and teachers) works together to promote the game. That includes collaborating with local media outlets, posting on social media and seeking donations from local area businesses.

Above all of that, though, Mike says that you can use passion to fuel your momentum. Lead with your heart, and people will respond.  

“If you have a passion to support those in need, let that guide your event. There are more compassionate and benevolent people in our community than you can imagine who will jump on board and support you.”

Mike also says that the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation really helps support his team through the planning process by providing tools and connections that make the event a success.

Bring It All Together

Bringing It All Together

There’s a lot to be learned from the success of Shooting For A Cure!, especially if you’re thinking about hosting your own Team Roswell event for the first time. Here are four tips you can take from Shooting For A Cure! when planning your fun.

1. Start early

Events can be time-consuming to plan, so give yourself plenty of time to get everything off the ground.

2. Make it a community affair

Planning is more fun with a team. Make sure to loop people in and ask for help from local businesses.

3. Use the resources available to you

Whether you need inspiration, guidance or planning tools, there is plenty of support available to you. Ask family, friends or the staff at the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation.

4. Get social

Use social media to promote your event, ask for donations and gather inspiration from other accounts. Follow Shooting For A Cure! on Twitter at @PemGBB_PinkGame to get started.

5. Lead with passion

If you have a serious passion for helping others, let that be your guide. People respond well to authenticity and are more likely to help if they know you’re excited about your event.

With these tips on your side, your event is sure to be a hit.

Questions? Reach out to Mary at Team Roswell at 716-845-4977 or teamroswell@roswellpark.org .