BUFFALO, N.Y. — This week, we're back at the Innovation Center where there's a group that's helping a lot of Western New York families who are battling childhood cancer.
Gwen Mysiak started her career at WNED. She worked there for 18 years until her cousin's son was diagnosed with cancer.
"Through being very front lines with Andrew and his journey with pediatric cancer, I really began to understand the ripple effect for a family," Mysiak said.
Gwen's passion was born out of her own family's journey. She met Brian Moorman at Andrew's memorial service and knew she wanted to give back to the foundation he started, because he helped Andrew. Brian knew he might be leaving Buffalo, so he wanted to leave the PUNT foundation in good hands.
"I kind of began a new career chapter unexpectedly," Mysiak said. "By getting momentum going through so much great support through the community and working together, we've been able to be here almost eight years later with a lot of growth in our programs and our impact."
There's just one other person on staff with Gwen, and together they run and raise funds for six programs that help local families.
"I'm really proud of the fact that we partner with the psycho-social team, the social workers and psychologists, at Roswell Park, at Oishei Children's Hospital, and at Essential Care for Kids, which is part of Hospice, and we really work hand and glove with them on how to direct our resources and how to make sure that we're best serving these families in the ways that they need it most."
Through the foundation, families get help paying bills. Gwen says parking and cafeteria vouchers are like gold to those families. She also makes sure bereavement funding is available. Plus, the PUNT Foundation brings kids going through cancer treatment to Bills games and current Bills players keep visiting kids at hospitals. All of the community partnerships and your generosity keep the foundation going.
"You know, it's overwhelming sometimes," Mysiak said. "I always say that it's a great honor to get the opportunity to do professionally something that I've been touched so personally by."
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