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Carly's Club changes name, gains new multi-year sponsor

Michael Mroziak, WBFO

First created by a young girl battling brain cancer, Carly's Club at Roswell Park is taking on a new name. The newly-renamed Courage of Carly Fund has also gained a new corporate sponsor that will help encourage donations to support research and programming for young cancer and blood disorder patients.

Leaders of Roswell Park Cancer Institute and New Era Cap gathered in the latter's downtown Buffalo headquarters to announce the new direction for the Courage of Carly Fund.

"For more than 15 years, donations of Carly's Club have enabled Roswell Park to advance pediatric cancer research efforts and to help even our youngest and their families through this journey," said Dr. Candace Johnson, president and CEO fo Roswell Park Cancer Institute. "I can't tell you how important Carly's Club has been."

As the Courage of Carly Fund, the organization will additionally support research and family-related programs for children undergoing outpatient care for non-malignant blood disorders, including clotting and sickle-cell conditions, at the soon-to-open Katherine, Anne & Donna Gioia Pediatric Hematology Oncology Center. That facility is scheduled to open in September.

New Era Cap president and CEO Chris Koch announced that his company has committed to a three-year, "six-figure" sponsorship of the Courage of Carly Fund. Koch explained that many of his own family members have been treated at Roswell Park, including his late father.

"One of the things he said to me, in the last few days that he was around, was 'your success will not be judged by how fast or how big you grow this brand, but rather, your success will be giving back to people in need and giving to organizations that truly are changing lives,'" Koch said. "Roswell is one of those places."

Nearly a dozen young patients sat, wearing newly-designed Courage of Carly caps and holding flags bearing the letter C, on either side of the podium as speakers took turns celebrating Tuesday morning's announcement. 

Among those patients was Stella Usiak, age 14, who stood up and told her tale of undergoing two treatments for Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. She credited Carly's Club for providing support through her treatment, including a dress to wear to Roswell Park's teen prom. 

"That dress made me feel confident and beautiful, just like all the other girls," Miss Usiak said. "I went straight from the hospital to the pre-prom party, where they had stylists for makeup and hair. I felt like a princess after being all glammed up."

Michael Mroziak is an experienced, award-winning reporter whose career includes work in broadcast and print media. When he joined the WBFO news staff in April 2015, it was a return to both the radio station and to Horizons Plaza.
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