On Saturday, June 23, thousands of bicyclists from across Western New York and other parts of the country will converge on UB’s North Campus to raise more than $3 million for Roswell Park Cancer Institute and its research and patient care programs. The UB Spirit cycling team of employees and friends, captained this year again by Jay Friedman of Alumni Relations, has raised over $500,000 for Roswell Park since 2004. Behind the scenes on Ride day, and in the weeks and months leading up to the event, many UB employees work to ensure its success. The UB Reporter caught up with Bryan Sidorowicz, associate director of UB’s Office of Special Events, about this year’s Ride for Roswell.
How many people from UB are behind the scenes on Ride day and who are they?
There are already quite a few support staff involved in “The Ride” and that number has increased with the addition of opening ceremonies on Friday. The Office of Special Events is involved, but there is also participation from Facilities, Athletics, University Police, Center for the Arts, Parking and Transportation, Student Life, Food Service and others. We all come together to support an event like this. It takes a village and the Ride for Roswell is a perfect example of that.
What are the most challenging parts of carrying off this event successfully?
This event brings so many people to campus. We have approximately 12,000 people here, biking, eating and supporting “The Ride.” One of the biggest challenges is managing the hundreds of requests in all areas of campus to make sure we support the event in the best possible way. This year, we are working with staff from the Center for the Arts to help coordinate the concert event connected with the Ride, as well as Campus Dining and Shops to consult on feeding the thousands of riders and volunteers.
Is this the biggest annual on-campus event?
The only thing we do that involves more people is the Fourth of July celebration. But in terms of its overall impact, I’d say it’s the largest event.
The opening ceremony and concert sounds like great additions. What kind of tasks do they entail for your team?
The concert is new to the Roswell staff. We have spent the last year working with them and consulting on the logistics of doing a concert in the stadium—from covering the field to video screen locations. We are working with them on the program and hoping to ensure the event comes off without a hitch, while they learn to incorporate the ceremony into their overall plan.
What takes place this week near Baird Point? Is there a lot of prep work?
Ride setup starts two weeks before Ride day and ramps up in earnest on the Monday before the event. We’ll see hundreds of tents, thousands of feet of fencing, start and finish lines erected, patching and prepping roadways, and prepping thousands of meals in the days leading up to the Ride.
What do you think would surprise people about this event—any weird or interesting factoids?
Because the Ride happens on a Saturday, honestly, I think most of our UB folks don’t realize the event’s size and how much UB does to support it. Come Monday morning, it has all but disappeared. If you didn’t ride, you wouldn’t have any idea it was here.
No traces on Monday? Who cleans up the campus when all the riders have gone home?
For the most part, the event is cleaned up by Roswell volunteers. Our staff does a final pass around campus on Sunday to make sure we get everything ready for “business as usual” on Monday.
Participation in the Ride is increasing along with fundraising totals. What’s it like being part of that success?
I rode in the event in 2007 before I was in my current position. I was impressed then with the event and how well-organized it seemed. My respect has only grown in the last four years that I’ve been involved—and there’s room for further growth. We closely watch capacity. We’re at about 50 to 75 percent of what we could handle on campus. So clearly there's room to do more.
Speaking of organization, can you talk about the planning that’s involved with such an event?
Think of it as one weekend that requires the rest of the year to get ready. As soon as the 2012 Ride for Roswell is over, preparations get under way for next year’s event. I’m on a few of the many committees. As we get closer to the event, we start meeting more frequently. It’s so worthy of that kind of investment. The Ride has a huge impact on the community and there are a lot of eyes on UB. It’s such a great partnership between Roswell Park and UB.