ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Last month, we introduced you to Ben Stromecki, a 12-year-old boy from Elma who is battling brain cancer. One of Ben's wishes was to take a trip on the Edward M. Cotter fire boat in Buffalo and several fire companies helped make it happen.
There is now a big effort underway to fundraise for Ben's family.
Ben just had brain surgery again on Tuesday, and his parents are waiting for the results. While they stay with him as he recovers, the community is rallying behind Ben and his family to give them the emotional and financial support they need.
"The overwhelming generosity that I've experienced, I mean, it renews your faith in humanity," says Beth Nowak.
Nowak is Ben’s father’s cousin. She is also leading the Ben Be Strong Foundation in its fundraising efforts to help the Stromecki family. Ben's family goes well beyond people who are related to each other. Ben's dad and grandfather have a combined 70-plus years of experience serving as volunteer firefighters in Orchard Park.
"To be a member of a fire company is a brethren. It's like being a police officer. Once you're in, you're in for life," says Nowak.
A meat raffle set for next month is already sold out, so now, Nowak is looking for more donations for a basket raffle that will be held that same day (October 14) at the Armor Fire Company in Hamburg. She is also looking for other fire halls to host spaghetti dinners. Already this afternoon, people stepped up offering to help host events for the Stromecki family.
"They're probably the most humble and giving people, and to have to be on the other side of this, I can't even, I wouldn't want one second on the other side, I wouldn't want a second in their shoes," says Nowak.
Erica Bieler is a longtime family friend who is helping to organize the fundraisers. She has two little boys herself.
“I would just hope that somebody would do this for me if I was in the same position. Unfortunately, you know, pediatric cancer doesn't really get as much funding as it should," says Bieler. "So, if with Ben's story we can help bring more attention to that, then, I think we've done a good job. And obviously, we're looking for a miracle here for Ben and his family."
If you would like to help, you can contact Beth Nowak at 716-225-0494, or you can send her an email. There is also a Ben Be Strong account set up at all M&T Banks.