If you were in Buffalo in the early 2000s, chances are, you’ve heard of Ryan Miller. Donning the now iconic No. 30, the Sabres goaltender holds the Buffalo Sabres franchise records in games played (540), wins (284) and saves (14,847). Throughout his NHL career, he banked 390 wins overall, earning him 14th place in NHL history, one ahead of fellow Sabres icon Dominik Hasek. He won silver at the U.S. Olympics, snagged himself the Vezina Trophy as the league’s best goaltender and finished his career as the all-time winningest U.S.-born goaltender upon his retirement following the 2020-2021 season.
When Ryan retired from the NHL in 2021, the Sabres released a statement that still rings true today:
“His on-ice performance and dedication to our fans has forever endeared Ryan to the Western New York Community. Through his Steadfast Foundation and numerous charitable events, Ryan consistently displayed a sincere commitment to Buffalo and was the epitome of what it means to be a Buffalo Sabre,” the statement read.
There are few stronger examples of that commitment than that of his dedication to the Courage of Carly Fund.
For nearly a decade, Ryan supported pediatric patients and their families at Roswell Park through both personal donations and contributions through his non-profit, The Steadfast Foundation, totaling more than $250,000. Inspired by his cousin Matt who lost his battle to leukemia, Ryan took it upon himself to make regular visits to the pediatric clinic where he would read with the kids, share stories and play games.
Luke Gworek, now 17 years old, recalls meeting Ryan on a day he was notified that “there was something wrong.” At seven years old, Luke didn’t yet grasp the ramifications of his leukemia diagnosis, but he knew the situation wasn’t good. As he sat in his hospital room, crying, Ryan walked in. He spent time with Luke, calming him down and reassuring him that he would push through.
“When you’re diagnosed with cancer, you feel very sad and down,” Luke said. “And when someone like Ryan comes along and tells you, ‘You’re going to be fine, you’re going to get through it,’ it really inspires you to keep doing that and get through.”
But Luke’s story doesn’t stop there. Several years after their original meeting, Luke was undergoing treatment at Roswell Park when Ryan walked in — this time for a surprise visit. At the time, Ryan had been traded to a different NHL team and was in town for a visit. When Ryan saw Luke, he instantly remembered their conversation and asked Luke how he was doing. Ryan’s genuine nature and kindness only served to further cement Ryan as one of Luke’s all-time favorite players.
January 19, 2023 marked a momentous occasion for Ryan Miller and the Buffalo Sabres franchise. As the Sabres prepared to face off against the New York Islanders, Ryan stood before his fans and watched his signature No. 30 jersey get raised to the rafters and officially retired. The evening celebrated Ryan’s legendary accomplishments and marked his induction into the Buffalo Sabres Hall of Fame.
“When I look up and see Ryan’s number 30 hanging in the rafters, I’m going to remember that he always has a spot for Buffalo in his heart,” Luke said. “He’s a very inspirational person, and he’ll just continue to inspire people even after the NHL.”
True to his dedication to Western New Yorkers, Ryan stopped by Roswell Park for a visit on Friday, January 20, following his honorary night at KeyBank Center. He spent time with pediatric patients and their families and honored the start of a special initiative: the Ryan Miller Legacy Fund.
In recognition of all that Ryan has meant to Roswell Park and the Courage of Carly Fund, an endowed fund has been established, with seed funding from the Buffalo Sabres, to support future pediatric programs for years to come. A wall in the pediatric clinic at Roswell Park was dedicated to Ryan for everything he continues to mean to the thousands of patients, caregivers and staff who are in the fight.