Spreading Childhood Cancer Awareness with Ted’s and Sahlen’s

Spreading Childhood Cancer Awareness with Ted's and Sahlen's.

Kids are helping kids at Ted's! beside a drawing of a Ted's hot dog kids meal.

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month and YOU can be part of spreading the news alongside Ted’s and Sahlen’s. 

Throughout September, 20% of all Ted’s kids meal sales will be donated to the Courage of Carly Fund at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center.  Your kids meal will be fueling not just you, but amazing programs and services for kids and families facing cancer and blood disorders.

Every kid who joins in will receive a raffle ticket with their kids meal for a chance to win four free tickets to Hockey Fights Cancer in Buffalo, New York, this fall. Make sure you fill that out and put it in the collection box (there’s one at every Ted’s location) by September 30. We’ll let the winners know the good news in early October!

Your kids meal comes with a chance to win! Enter to win four free hockey tickets with every kids meal.

Thanks for helping us spread childhood cancer awareness this September with Ted’s and Sahlen’s! 

12 Days of Holiday Magic 2022

Celebrating 12 Days of Holiday Magic.

This year, Courage of Carly is ready to celebrate 12 Days of Holiday Magic together! To make sure our members can be safe and feel comfortable with this year’s festivities, we have all kinds of activities to participate in at home or in person. The fun will start on Dec. 2 and go through Dec. 13. 

None of these celebrations of holiday magic would be possible without the generosity of our sponsor, The Wanakah Country Club 100 Holes of Golf Challenge. Thanks to our friends, we can fulfill our work of bringing a little extra hope and happiness to our patients and their families.

Roswell Park at night with holiday lights in the foreground.

Day 1: Buffalo Zoo Lights.

Friday, Dec. 2 – Members and immediate families can kickoff the holiday festivities by taking in dazzling light displays at the Buffalo Zoo on Dec. 2. Enjoy the lights at your own pace, but don’t forget to pick up your at-home activities for the next few days!

Day 2: Decorate Cookies.

Saturday, Dec. 3 – The holidays bring sweets, we didn’t make the rules. Members will decorate cookies together at home!

Day 3: Family Game Night.

Sunday, Dec. 4 – Family time is so precious. Even if it gets a little competitive! It’s time for fun and games together at home.

Day 4: Make an Ornament.

Monday, Dec. 5 – Whether decorating a tree or a home, holiday magic will fill our members’ homes with these ornament projects.

Day 5: Build a Puzzle.

Tuesday, Dec. 6 – More family fun for our patients, their siblings and friends. What will your puzzle look like? Who can solve it the quickest?

Day 6: Drink Hot Cocoa.

Wednesday, Dec. 7 – The holidays can be chilly, especially in Western New York. We’ll keep our members warm with a little mid-week cocoa.

Day 7: Zoom Call with Santa & Mrs. Claus.

Thursday, Dec. 8 – Ho, ho, ho! Who wants to chat with one of our favorite holiday magic duo? We do! Big thanks to Santa and Mrs. Claus for always making time for the pediatric patients at Roswell Park.

Day 8: Roswell Park Tree of Hope.

Friday, Dec. 9 – Join our own member, Mya, as she lights up over 100,000 lights at Roswell Park’s Kaminski Park! In addition to the lighting of the tree, the event will have live music, carriage rides, a candle lighting ceremony, hot chocolate and other tasty treats. Anyone can watch the tree lighting on WGRZ-TV, Channel 2 from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.

Day 9: Decorate a Gingerbread House.

Saturday, Dec. 10 – Frosting and gumdrops and sprinkles, oh my! It’s a holiday tradition that never gets old and always stays sweet.

Day 10: Holiday Movie at Aurora Theatre.

Sunday, Dec. 11 – Courage of Carly families will have a special, private holiday movie showing at the historic Aurora Theatre, courtesy of our friends at The West Herr Automotive Group, especially Scott and Kathy Bieler.

Day 11: Sabres Holiday Visit at Roswell Park.

Monday, Dec. 12 – One of our favorite days at the hospital is back! Our friends from the Buffalo Sabres will be visiting Roswell Park patients throughout the hospital and then will join Courage of Carly members for some fun! 

Day 12: Courage of Carly Holiday Party.

Tuesday, Dec. 13 – We’re back for a holiday night to remember at the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center for the first time since 2019. Keeping safety measures in place, this year’s party might look a little bit different, but we’re grateful to have the chance to celebrate our patients and their families in person.

You Can Help!

Not a Courage of Carly member? No problem! You can also share in a little bit of holiday magic this season. Our patients and their siblings (21 and under) who come to the holiday party have made a wish list again this year. If you want to help contribute to a little extra happiness and holiday spirit this year, check out our Amazon Wishlist!

Looking for other ways to help? There’s so much you can do! Check out this page to get started.

If you have any questions, you can reach out to Courage of Carly Coordinator Megan Crawford at megan.crawford@roswellpark.org.

10 ways to help during Childhood Cancer and Blood Disorder Awareness Month

10 ways to help during Childhood Cancer and Blood Disorder Awareness Month.

September is National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month and Blood Disorders Awareness Month, a very special time of year when we honor children affected by pediatric cancers and blood disorders. The goal is to raise awareness of these diseases and the need for safer and more effective treatments.

This month and every month, you can make a difference in the lives of children and families who turn to Roswell Park for hope. When you support the Courage of Carly Fund, you’re supporting important family and patient care programs and fueling critically needed pediatric cancer research right here in Western New York.

Dr. Kara Kelly smiles with a young patient in an exam room
An infant receives treatment at Roswell Park

Here are 10 ways you can help make an impact on the fight against childhood cancers and blood disorders:

  1. Sign up for Roswell Park Alliance Foundation’s 62 by You October Challenge
  2. Have a #ShineGold Day
    • Stand in solidarity with those fighting and be a part of the change in childhood cancer research by hosting a “Shine Gold Day” at your school or workplace.
    • Contact Megan Crawford at Megan.Crawford@RoswellPark.org for a “Shine Gold Day” event pack.
  3. Donate Blood Products at Roswell Park
    • Pediatric cancer and blood disorder patients have a consistent need for blood products, and donors are the only ones who can meet that need. Give life, give blood at Roswell Park! Call The Donor Center today at 716-845-8275 or visit them on Facebook.
  4. Start a fundraiser
    • This is your chance to get creative and make an impact with a fundraiser that’s unique to you! No matter what you decide, we’re grateful to you for making a difference in the lives of pediatric cancer and blood disorder patients.
    • Contact Mary Russo at Mary.Russo@RoswellPark.org or 716-845-4977 with questions.
  5. Become an ambassador for childhood cancers and blood disorders
  6. Workplace giving
    • Employees are often looking for opportunities to make a difference in their community.  Whether it is a dress down day or a company match on employee donations, your workplace community can make a difference in the fight against childhood cancer and blood disorders.
  7. Host a gift card drive for Courage of Carly Fund families affected by diagnoses
    • We have limited space in the pediatric clinic to store all the wonderful gifts we have for our kids. We kindly recommend holding a gift card drive, instead of a traditional toy drive. Gift cards allow us to maximize your gift to our patients because they provide our staff with the flexibility to make “on-demand” toy purchases or allow patients to have some freedom in their decision making during a time when most decisions are out of their control.
    • Our most popular gift card requests include gas and grocery stores, Target, Walmart, Tim Hortons, gaming system credits and Amazon.
  8. Donate
    • When you donate to the Courage of Carly Fund, you’re fueling lifesaving research and life-changing programs for pediatric patients and their families. Not only are you looking to the future of pediatric cancer and blood disorder treatment, you’re caring for these children now, in the middle of their fight.
  9. Talk to your favorite stores and businesses
    • If this mission is close to your heart, there’s a good chance it’s important to other people and groups in your life. Talk to the people behind your favorite stores and businesses to see if they’re involved with Courage of Carly and Roswell Park. If they’re not, see if they might want to join you in supporting pediatric cancer and blood disorder patients.
  10. Show up for friends and family who are impacted
    • Sometimes the best way to help a family affected by childhood cancer is just showing up when times get tough. Offer to help with transportation, watching siblings, being a shoulder to cry on, send an occasional thinking of you message. It is helping in these ways that sometimes have the most meaningful impact.

However you decide to join in the fight this month, we’re grateful to have you! Thanks for all you’re doing to support Roswell Park’s youngest patients.

Buffalo game supports pediatric patients

Buffalo game supports pediatric patients.

In 2021, Roswell Park and Oishei Children’s Hospital teamed up to create a Buffalo game that supports pediatric patients. With over 50 community partners, they worked with Hasbro and the Cooley Group. The result: the First Edition City of Buffalo MONOPOLY game.

In just over a month, 7,500 limited-edition games were sold at Western New York Tops Friendly Markets locations. The effort raised $405,000 for the Roswell Park Oishei Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Program. People across the country bought the game to enjoy the first-of-its-kind game celebrating all things Buffalo. Better still, they were supporting some of our area’s youngest patients and their families.

Pediatric patient holds First Edition City of Buffalo MONOPOLY game.
Logos for Roswell Park and Oishei Children's hospitals for their cancer and blood disorders program

Playing to support pediatric patients.

One of those patients, Andre Sanders, was able to celebrate the launch of the new game and represent all pediatric cancer patients in WNY.

Andre was diagnosed at age 4 with Wilms tumor, a type of cancer on his kidney.

After several rounds of radiation and nine months of chemotherapy, Andre the Warrior rang the Roswell Park Victory Bell in May 2020.

Impact of the new game.

The funds raised made way for Roswell Park to create a dedicated Pediatric Transplant Nurse Coordinator position. This role, now held by Erin Hughes, RN, will support our pediatric and young adult patients. Erin coordinates transplants and everything leading up to them, including finding a donor when needed. This specialized role allows Erin to spend time with patients and families, guiding them through the process and managing their individual needs along the way.

Getting to know Erin.

Erin has been at Roswell Park for her entire career and has always had an interest in specializing in pediatric care. Now as a mom herself, that call has an even stronger pull.

“I can see the bigger picture. Not only wanting to help a patient, but their parents and their families through the entire process,” she said. In this role, she’s able to follow each patient throughout the process to ensure they receive the quality care they need.

Erin is looking forward to being a familiar face for patients and families. “It can be helpful just having someone in this role who understands the entire process.” There’s a lot that transplant coordinators do leading up to, through and even post-transplant.

“You know, I’m excited, it’s a new position. I’ll get to help build it as I work closely with the pediatric doctors and team and talk about what we want this role to be.”

This Buffalo game supports pediatric patients with cancer and blood disorders now and into the future. All thanks to donor support and the City of Good Neighbors.

Pediatric leukemia patient Colt finds his strength

Pediatric patient Colt, age 11, smiles at the camera.
Pediatric patient Colt, age 11, stands with his IV stand and gives a thumbs up to the camera.

Colt finds his strength.

Colt Matz has been a competitive swimmer in Portville, New York, near the Pennsylvania border since he was 5 years old. It’s his all-time favorite sport. But in early May 2021, Colt found out he had leukemia. That put swimming on hold. It all started when he felt unwell during swim practice.

“I felt like I was going to pass out during warm ups, and I had to tell my coach,” the now 11-year-old said. A visit to the hospital in nearby Olean, New York, that same weekend revealed a terrifying truth.

“That afternoon, I heard the phrase no parent and no person should ever have to hear: your son has leukemia,” said Colt’s dad, Mike. An hour after the diagnosis, Colt and his mom, Christina, were airlifted to Buffalo to begin his care at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center.

After months of chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant —for which Colt’s younger brother, Jack, ended up being a perfect match — this brave pediatric leukemia patient was ready to go home.

Pediatric patient Colt, age 11, smiles as he stands behind his parents, who are seated. Colt's arms are around his parents' shoulders.

Finding his courage with leukemia.

“This experience has been challenging, especially because everything happened so fast and it was really scary,” Colt said. “I didn’t understand what was really going on, but my doctors, nurses, programs and my parents helped me feel more comfortable each day.”

During his months of treatment in Buffalo, Colt said he spent his time learning to play the ukulele, trying video games and doing lots of crafts. Best of all, he said he discovered he was stronger and braver than he ever knew he could be.

Pediatric patient Colt, age 11, pours paint onto a canvas in his hospital room. He wears a mask and hospital gown.
Pediatric patient Colt, age 11, lies in his hospital bed and holds the hand of his younger brother who stands beside the bed.olt's arms are around his parents' shoulders.

Choosing Roswell Park as a pediatric leukemia patient.

“My experience at Roswell Park has been the best,” Colt said. “It is like one big family that I am now a part of. Everyone I meet always is helpful, kind and smiling. I know when I walk into clinic I am going to get the best care. And if I am nervous someone is always there to help me.”

For Christina and Mike, the choice to bring their son to Roswell Park was simple.

“When you have a world-class treatment center in your backyard, there is no other answer,” Mike said. “The facilities, the people and the environment are so positive. We couldn’t ask to be in a better spot for Colt’s care.”

“Our experience at Roswell Park has been nothing short of incredible. I dare anyone to find a more highly qualified medical team anywhere. But at Roswell Park, they don’t just treat the disease, they treat the whole person.”

The Matz family, like many others, has benefitted from emotional support, child life specialists, music and arts programs and visits from their favorite therapy dogs at Roswell Park. Many of those roles and programs are fueled by the generosity of donors.

Pediatric patient Colt, age 11, is embraced by his parents, one on either side of him.

You can make a difference for pediatric patients.

“I am so thankful for Courage of Carly,” Colt said. “They have done so many amazing things for me, my family and so many other kids like me.”

“To the many donors to Roswell Park, we want to say thank you,” Mike and Christina said. “The work you enable Roswell Park to do literally saves and changes lives. Every dollar you are able to contribute means more trips to get ice cream, more times at the park and more LIFE. Without generous donors like you, how many children and adults would not be able to enjoy all that life has to offer, big and small. What greater opportunity is there to help people than that?”

Support cancer patients like Jack with Walgreens

Support cancer patients like Jack with Walgreens.

Toddler pediatric patient who has lost his hair wears a bright red shirt and smiles as his mom smiles and has her arms around him.

This summer, Western New Yorkers can support cancer patients with Walgreens. When you donate to the Courage of Carly Fund at checkout June 12-25, you’re helping to change the lives of kids with cancer.

Jack Kaplewicz is happy 1-year-old boy from Eden, New York. He loves a couple things most of all: football and food. Play the “Shout” song and this little guy will dance to it on repeat. He’s a Buffalo-area kiddo, after all. Jack has a big sister and a little brother on the way.

Jack's diagnosis.

But Jack was a very different boy only months ago. He was diagnosed with bilateral Wilms tumors, a rare type of kidney cancer. Jack’s parents, Amy and Jason, learned about his diagnosis in October 2021 when Jack was only 10 months old. 

After months of care and chemotherapy at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, Jack was ready for surgery. He saw a surgeon out of town in late January 2022 who removed a nearly 3.5 lb. tumor from his right kidney.

“Since his surgery, he has been a different kid,” Amy said. He went from a lethargic little guy to a toddler on the move. Now, she says, he doesn’t even realize he’s sick. He enjoys his regular visits to Roswell Park for continued chemotherapy. Those visits mean snacks, playtime and getting to see the staff members he loves.

Bald toddler pediatric cancer patient in a bright red shirt smiles as he presses his hand and face against a window. In his other hand, he holds his blanket.

Hope when life is upside down.

“Having a kid with cancer, your whole world is turned upside down,” Amy said. “Normalcy isn’t there, you’re worried your kid isn’t going to make it.” Jack will continue treatment at Roswell Park for now. The goal is to remove the remainder of the cancer on Jack’s left kidney. 

There’s still more ahead in Jack’s cancer journey for the Kaplewicz family, but they’re hopeful. Since his cancer is rare, Jack is part of a number of studies to help doctors learn more about his disease.

“But there’s research being done and there’s funding for it. We’re so appreciative that people give,” Amy said. “They don’t know us; they don’t have to choose to donate. And they don’t know how much their generosity impacts us.”

Your impact at Walgreens.

You’ll see photos of Jack in many WNY Walgreens locations this summer. When you donate at checkout, you’re helping patients like Jack whose families turn to Roswell Park for care.

Throughout this partnership with Walgreens, 100% of customer donations will benefit pediatric programs at Roswell Park.

Head to your local Walgreens June 12-25 to make your life-changing gift to support cancer patients at checkout! Find a Walgreens near you.

Deep South Taco: More than a Partnership

Deep South Taco: More than a Partnership.

For Deep South Taco owner Chef Richard Hamilton, supporting Roswell Park was more than a business decision, it was personal. 

Richard’s son, Christian, started his battle with cancer in 2019 when he was 19 years old. A college athlete at the time, Christian took excellent care of his health. 

“To get sick when you’re just the epitome of health… it just came out of nowhere,” Richard said. They don’t have a strong family history of cancer, so the news was beyond unexpected. Christian battled, testicular cancer, lymphedema and further cancer in his kidneys, liver. After initial chemotherapy and surgery, doctors also found cysts on his brain. 

“When my son first got sick, I called around to several top hospitals because I wanted to make sure he had the best of the best,” Richard said, remembering the shock of his son’s initial diagnosis. “Through meeting with the doctors at Roswell Park and discussing the different options for treatment, I was more comfortable with him there than any other hospital. On top of that, I can see Roswell Park from the roof of my restaurant. They’re in my backyard.”

Christian is 22 years old now and through that part of his cancer story. Now, the Hamilton family is focused on giving back. After Christian’s experience at Roswell Park, the family decided they wanted to do everything in their power to support programs that could continue to grow and help more kids and young adults. 

“My son is alive. My son is going to be healthy and he’s going to fight another day. I’ve got to make sure I do the same so another kid has this opportunity.” 


Giving Back

“This company is 100% of who we are and what we do,” Richard said of Deep South Taco. “We’ve lived in Buffalo now for 10 years and I’ve owned Deep South Taco for almost eight of them. We felt like the city had done enough for us.”

So it was decided. In 2020, in the midst of the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, Richard said he was going to “put my money where my mouth is” and use Deep South Taco’s biggest event of the year to make a difference in the lives of the kids at Roswell Park and their families.

“Cancer doesn’t stop for a pandemic. There’s no question that we had to do it,” he said. “I can’t make a kid wait; there’s always going to be something in the way. We’re still here working, still here fighting. My son was fighting, other kids are fighting and I’m not going to quit.”


Cinco de Mayo 2022

Now, for the second year in a row, the proceeds from the Deep South Taco Cinco de Mayo Street Festival on Thursday, May 5, 2022 at will be donated to the Courage of Carly Fund to support kids and young adults with cancer.

The Ellicott Street event will boast fun and refreshing food and beverages, incredible live music, VIP rooftop lounges and more. And every penny spent will support pediatric and young adult cancer patients.

“This is going to be so much fun. And it’s such an easy thing,” Richard said. “If people are going to celebrate anyway, why not come and buy a margarita here? We’re just going to give that money right to Roswell Park. They can help without even knowing they’re helping. Just by being here, they’re helping the kids at Roswell Park.”

And Deep South Taco won’t be stopping there. Richard said he and some other business friends of his are excited to continue their support of Roswell Park and the Courage of Carly Fund this summer and into the future.

If you want to keep up with Deep South Taco and keep an eye out for more chances to help patients at Roswell Park through their generous support, follow them on social media!