Published July 30, 2021
Editor's note: Summer Hours is a photo series focusing on UB staff members who use the longer days to pursue interesting hobbies, causes and other endeavors outside of their day jobs.
What started as an random ad in his social media newsfeed has since become a creative passion and major fundraising tool. This summer, Douglas Levere, photo/video manager for University Communications, is using his talent for making personal Neapolitan pizzas to raise money for Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center.
“I love making pizza and have found it to be a wonderful way to get friends to donate to Roswell Park,” Levere explains.
UBNow caught up with Levere on a late June evening at Public Espresso + Coffee in the Hotel Lafayette in downtown Buffalo. Forty pre-folded pizza boxes are stacked in the corner. The oven warms nearby, ingredients ready for the assembly line of pizza-making. Some of the ingredients have been donated by large food suppliers, as well as friends.
“To me, it’s a creative outlet; you’ll never make the same pizza twice,” says Levere, dressed in an apron and Roswell cap. His personal favorite is a goat cheese, mozzarella and rosemary pizza — and yes, it’s on the menu. “That rosemary, when it gets in the hot oven, it just has this really great fragrance,” he says.
Levere is fundraising for his second Empire State Ride, a 500-plus-mile, weeklong ride from New York City to Niagara Falls. The 2021 event has over 225 riders who have so far raised more than $1.4 million for cancer research at Roswell Park, according to the cancer center. (Editor’s note: The ride is currently underway; riders began on July 25 and will be reaching Niagara Falls on July 31.)
With three pizza fundraisers in late spring, as well as other efforts, Levere had raised nearly $8,000 by mid-July. But his goal is continually changing, as his pizza events keep selling out.
“People love his work,” says UB alumnus and adjunct faculty member Andrew Galarneau, who is also the food editor and restaurant critic for The Buffalo News, as well as Levere’s friend for more than 30 years.
Galarneau laughs when he recounts how dedicated Levere is to pizza-making — whether it’s shipping in his pizza oven by freight from overseas, or endlessly working to perfect his dough recipe. “I’m in awe of what he has done,” Galarneau says.
Levere has taken part in events for Roswell for about 10 years, and says it’s due, in part, to his own family’s experience. His mother was diagnosed with breast cancer in the late 1980s. After receiving treatment near her Long Island home, her cancer stayed in remission for 20 years.
“It’s just phenomenal, what one person could do to change so many people’s lives,” Levere said of the fundraising efforts. “You know that your money is going to a good cause.”
Douglas Levere, a UB alumnus, has worked in University Communications since 2005. He is also caption of UB’s Ride for Roswell Spirit team and welcomes all riders to join the team on Aug. 7. Levere is still accepting donations for his 2021 Empire Ride.