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    Ben Cambria

    Ben Cambria is an outgoing, rap loving, college junior who loves to hang out with his blue-nosed pitbull, travel, play soccer, and is working towards graduating from the University of Albany, where he's an event coordinator at his fraternity.

    A lot of those loves became more difficult or even close to impossible when he was diagnosed with ALS in July 2016.

    "It's a devastating diagnosis," said Ben's mother, Becky Cambria. "There are stages that you go through, the first being denial. He wants to continue doing what he wants to do, he just has to do it differently. ... But he never complains. We've had to modify our home. Not sure if we're going to move, or put an addition on, so we're feeling our way right now."

    Ben and his twin brother are the middle children of the six-kid Cambria family. He played soccer at St. Joseph's Collegiate Institute and Kenmore West, and began playing club soccer at the Albany before a diagnosis changed his life.

    "He played soccer in Albany a little bit but got injured," said Becky Cambria. "We really weren't connecting the dots. His freshman year he was having stiffness in his hands and feet, and he would go to the clinic people would say it's stress from the exams or school. And when we picked him up, I was like 'What the heck? This is more than stiffness.'"

    It was Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), often referred to as Lou Gehrig's Disease.

    In ALS, both the upper motor neurons and the lower motor neurons degenerate or die, and stop sending messages to the muscles. Unable to function, the muscles gradually weaken, start to twitch (called fasciculations), and waste away (atrophy). Eventually, the brain loses its ability to initiate and control voluntary movements.

    Ben was fortunate enough to earn a trial of the first ALS drug trial in almost 20 years, his mother says, and this has him getting infusions every day for 2 weeks, followed by 2 weeks off before restarting the cycle. The treatment won't cure him, but could dramatically slow the disease's progression.

    "He's been getting the infusions since August," Becky Cambria said. "It's too early to tell if there have been any changes. Fifty percent of people living with ALS die in the first two years. Ninety-eight percent die because they refuse the trache.

    "We have a very strong faith life and our prayers are just that Ben is a beacon with this new drug and it will slow down this disease that he will accomplish what he wants to accomplish."

    An ALS diagnosis is a lot to handle, and life has handed the 19-year-old a lot: Handling a grueling disease with a challenging new treatment and the rigors of fighting for a degree.

    "He his good days and his bad days," Becky Cambria said. "Depression certainly plays a role with the diagnosis. Not being able to do things his peers can do easily can cause him to have very down days. Everybody just tries their best to be positive and encourage him that he can still do what he wants to do."

    A portion of the proceeds from every 26 Shirts Volume 5, Shirt 3 design "Laser Swords" goes to help Ben and his family combat ALS.

    Jack Caffery

    We've all read bumper stickers about pets saving lives, but four-year-old Jack Caffery's dog will actually be a superhero without the cape.

    Or with a cape, should the Caffery's want to dress up their Diabetic Alert Dog. We won't judge.

    Jack was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at age 3, but doesn't show symptoms when his blood sugar levels get too low or too high. That means his parents have to prick his finger up to 15 times a day and stay vigilant through the very dangerous overnight period.

    "You would never know that he could (have a very low level), and he's jumping off the couch like a normal 4-year-old and he should be passed out with a level like that," Jill says, "And he just keeps going. He's so resilient, and for as long as I can I'm happy to wear the burden and be his pancreas."

    Enter a Diabetic Alert Dog, a remarkably expensive but incredibly useful set of eyes, er, singular nose for the Cafferies. The dog is being trained now, getting swabbed samples of Jack's saliva when the youngster's levels are high or low as part of an 18-24 month process in indoctrinating the dog to Jack's body.

    Once prepared -- and running just over $30,000 including insurance -- the dog will sleep with Jack and help Mom and Dad make interventions that could thwart organ failure, nerve damage, amputation, and any other number of Type 1 Diabetes threats.

    "Having a Diabetic Alert Dog, they can detect the change up to 20 minutes before a device inside him. That can be life saving, especially in the middle of the night when things can change so quickly. It's very common for not only children but adults with type 1 diabetes to go to sleep and never wake up again."

    "The dog is never going to take away from his need for insulin, or our need to check him. He wears a glucose monitor and an insulin pump. Medical devices fail, and the dog could make a mistake, too, but the dog is going to give us another safety net, a set of eyes, nose, something to keep him safe, make sure he wakes up every morning and lives a full, healthy life."

    Here's the thing: Like many other kids, Jack's just pumped to get a dog! The Thomas the Tank Engine and sports loving preschooler is already thankful this holiday season.

    "He's really excited," Jill said. "I picked him up from religion yesterday and they were making this turkey with what they're thankful for. One of the things he put out there is he's thankful for his dog. We don't even have a dog!"

    Now through December 3rd, for every 26 Shirts Vol 5, Shirt 2 "Hausch Money" sold, a donation of up to $8 is made to the Caffery family to help offset the cost of their Diabetic Alert Dog.

    We're Hiring!

    At 26 Shirts, we need help... and we're willing to pay for it!

    As our business continues to grow, we need more hands on deck. So we've decided it's time to add a part-time employee to our staff whose primary responsibilities will include product fulfillment and customer service.

    That's where you come in.

    Are you good with details? Do you understand the importance of amazing customer service? Do you want to work somewhere that you KNOW is making a difference in people's lives?

    Answered yes to these three questions? Then maybe, just maybe, we're a fit for each other! We're hiring for a shift that runs Monday through Friday for approximately 20 hours a week and we want to bring someone on who believes in our mission as much as we do.

    If this position interests you, [send us an email] and let's talk turkey.

    Dennis Barberio

    Stepping into the batter's box for a second round with cancer, baseball nut Dennis Barberio took his battle deep into extra innings.

    26 Shirts is proud to be offering "Okpos-O's" for the next two weeks in order to help relieve the medical bills associated with Dennis' battle, and celebrate his life.

    Diagnosed with leukemia in 2012, Dennis stepped to the plate and took his cuts. Through many rounds of chemotherapy, a blood transfusion, and finally a bone marrow transplant, there was relief when doctors told him his cancer was in remission.

    After all, Dennis had been by his wife Jeanette's side in 2000 when she stood up to Stage IV lymphoma. The couple had made it through, and their family turned with excited eyes to their new leases on life.

    Dennis loved to umpire baseball games. His favorite team wasn't the Cubs, or the Yankees, or the Red Sox, but his hometown Buffalo Bisons. If he wasn't calling balls and strikes, safe and out, he'd like nothing more than to sit in the stands at Coca Cola Field with his family and friends, or maintain his library of hockey cards.

    "He wouldn't just umpire the game," said his daughter, Kristen Morello. "He'd coach the kids. If a kid was having trouble understanding or playing, he'd find a way. He was always willing to help."

    Each summer, Dennis would take to the "barracks" in Cooperstown Dreams Park for 13 weeks of tournaments held so that every kid had the opportunity to play ball in baseball's legendary home.

    "There's an opening ceremony, fireworks, skill competitions, and a small stadium for the championship game," said Sam Hunt, a fellow umpire and good friend of Dennis'. "It's a very well run organized tournament."

    From early May to late August, Dennis would umpire a series of five-day tournaments for 104 teams, meaning over 1,300 teams of kids worked their way through the dirt and grass of Cooperstown under his watchful eye.

    And that watchful eye could be a bit quirky, determined to have players and coaches learn new lessons about his beloved game.

    "He was completely devoted to his family, but in terms of his baseball prowess, he had a little different approach to his umpiring," Hunt said. "Every pregame meeting Dennis ever did was different."

    Kristen is currently taking classes to umpire, in order to live her father's legacy at Cooperstown.

    "He was such a great role model. The qualities I saw in him, I looked for in a husband. He was just so amazing."

    Even when his cancer returned in 2015, Dennis kept umpiring, heading back to Cooperstown in the summer. By 2016, the treatments were battering his body, and he decided enough was enough.

    It was back to the home of baseball, one last time.

    "He didn't want to go home," Morello says. "After all the games were done that last week in August, he stayed after everybody left. He was one of the last guys to leave, and sat on the bleachers and said, "Kristen, I just sobbed.' Cause he knew it was going to be the last time he'd be there."

    In October 2016, Dennis was told he may not live through the holidays, but persevered through Thanksgiving, then Christmas and New Year's. In the Spring, he was told he had at least three good weeks ahead, and spent a memorable weekend at Great Wolf Lodge, splashing and swimming with his grandchildren.

    Dennis had planned his entire funeral, and even left a list of back-up umpires for his family in case anyone called after he passed away, looking for someone to call a ball game.

    "He was very thoughtful," Hunt said. "If you know him and he knew you, he treated you like a relative or cousin. Very down to Earth, never raised his voice to anyone, never used vulgarities. Just a good natured good person to know. He cared about people and was concerned about people."

    After Dennis passed, peacefully and surrounded by family, there was one final baseball-themed celebration of his life.

    "His pallbearers were his umpiring friends from Cooperstown," Kristen said. "He was buried in his Cooperstown umpiring uniform, and my nephew got dirt from the field and put that in his casket. He had his baseball gloves and everything baseball related. The lining in his casket was baseball. It was absolutely beautiful, and the song that played as we were leaving the funeral at my church was 'Take Me Out To The Ballgame,'."

    Come Out and Celebrate Four Years of Giving Back

    How do you celebrate four years of giving back, and over $400,000 raised to help families in need and worthy charities?

    You throw a party that raises money to help families in need and worthy charities.

    26 Shirts is teaming up with Hydraulic Hearth, Community Beer Works, and FC Buffalo to celebrate the start of our fifth volume of shirts with a party at Hydraulic Hearth, 716 Swan Street in Buffalo from 5-8 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 26 (Get it?).

    We'll have an exclusive Buffalo tee shirt available only that night, adding to FC Buffalo's summer fundraiser to benefit Jericho Road and Westside International Soccer, two wonderful community organizations with a focus on Buffalo's refugee community.

    In additions to proceeds from our exclusive shirt, and FC Buffalo's collection of merchandise, CBW and Hydraulic Hearth will donate a portion of bar sales to the organizations.

    "We're grateful to all the customers, contributing artists, and sponsors who have helped make this crazy idea a success over the past four years," said Del Reid, founder of 26 Shirts. "Getting together to celebrate what we've all accomplished TOGETHER is something long overdue."

    We'll have special guests, delicious pizza, and a sneak preview of Shirt 1 of Volume 5 with special event pre-order pricing (Not to puff out our chest, but we believe this is one of our best yet).

    Also, show up wearing a 26 Shirts design to be entered to win a year's supply of shirts from 26 Shirts, with second and third prizes from FCB.

    CLICK HERE FOR FACEBOOK EVENT LISTING

    West Side International Soccer’s mission “is to provide youth mentoring and opportunity through a free organized soccer program to Buffalo’s refugee and low-income populations. At WSIS, we develop our players to be leaders both on and off the field. This means instilling in them confidence, discipline, and a sense of responsibility which extends beyond themselves and into their community.”

    Jericho Road Community Health Center “provides a culturally sensitive medical home, especially for refugee and low-income community members” through a wealth of incredible programs including Vive, the nation’s largest shelter for asylees. Jericho Road’s core values are dignity, sustainability, participation, integrity, sensitivity, holism, justice, and compassion."