Fun. At its core, that is the principle upon which Holiday Valley was founded. But at some point, having fun has to take a back seat to the greater good. The Western New York community is a tight knit one and has been a tremendous area to cultivate and grow the resort over the past 64 years. So when an opportunity to support a very important and well respected organization in the area comes up, we feel that it’s important to do our part whenever possible. If it’s possible to have fun in the process, all the better!
The Empire State Ride is a seven day cycling tour where 220 participants rode over 540 miles across New York State in an effort to raise money for Roswell Park’s Clinical Trials Program. This year the ride began on July 25 from New York City and ended seven days later in Niagara Falls. Holiday Valley put together a team of six avid and enthusiastic riders to take on the challenge.
Two of the members, Jane and Dennis Eshbaugh, are members of Holiday Valley’s Senior Team. Dennis serves as the President and General Manager and Jane is the Marketing Director. Dennis and Jane’s nephew, Charlie Bailey, also joined them on the team.
Bonnie Koschir recently retired from her position as Vice President of Resort Services at the resort. Her ability to motivate made her invaluable to the team.
Two other riders on team Holiday Valley came from the ski area next door, HoliMont. Debbie Stein, who heads up the IT and HR departments, and Sean Crotty, who is on the Safety Patrol team at HoliMont, are both avid riders and made for strong additions to the team.
All of the riders departed from Wagner College on Staten Island on July 25 after their first night (of 7) sleeping in tents. They crossed to Manhattan on the Staten Island Ferry, then traveled north for 58 miles, finishing Day 1 in Yorktown Heights.
Day 2, the team was up bright and early with the goal of riding 79 miles in order to get to camp in Rhinebeck, NY at the County Fairgrounds. They also camped along the way at schools, a raceway and, best of all, a VFW. Meals were provided but the biggest luxury was a shower truck, so riders could rinse off the sweat and grime after each day’s ride.
Heat index aside, New York State is beautiful this time of year. Lush, vibrant green countrysides set the stage for stunning sunrises and dramatic sunsets. And while the humidity was high and the temperatures got to levels that made aggressive riding difficult at times, the majority of the ride saw favorable weather and allowed the athletes to keep an excellent pace.
The remainder of the week the quintet traveled through small towns, rolling hills, cities and everything in-between. The landscape of New York State is vast and throughout the ride, the team climbed approximately 17,400 feet in elevation, while riding 548 miles in a week. It was grueling, physically challenging, fun and ultimately emotional.
Every night after dinner all the riders gathered for talks with riders who were survivors, riders who were riding for those battling cancer or family members who had lost the battle, and Roswell’s support of new and promising clinical trial drugs. Everyone has been affected by cancer in some capacity, so putting a team together to raise money that helps support cancer research is an important endeavor to take on. All in all, the ride as a whole raised $1.6 million and Team Holiday Valley contributed almost $44,000 to that total.
“To me, it’s important to get outside of yourself, especially after going through the pandemic,” said Jane Eshbaugh. “Not only were we raising much needed funds to get new and promising cancer drugs to the trial stage, but it made us all think beyond our own needs, to consider others and to help with a cause that is so important. We want to thank all of our sponsors who were so generous in contributing to our fundraising. You are the real heroes!”
There are a small number of Team Holiday Valley Riding Jerseys left. At the time of publication, we still have 3 small and 3 medium jerseys. If you would like to purchase one, they are $50, and that money will be donated to the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation. Please call 716-699-3904 or stop by the main office at Holiday Valley and ask for Jane Eshbaugh.