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    Tyler LaDue

    Tyler LaDue

    There isn’t much Tyler LaDue loves more than competitive swimming and the Buffalo Bills. 
    “He has not missed watching a game since like first grade,” his mom, Krista jokes.

    Krista says her son, a vibrant and kind 16-year-old, has always been active. But, in March, he was hit with a leukemia diagnosis without warning. Since that diagnosis, life has been hectic and challenging.

    “He was at States competition for swimming when he got really sick,” she says. “We initially thought he had the flu, but his pediatrician didn’t feel right about his blood work, so he was sent to Golisano for testing.”

    Golisano Children’s Hospital in Syracuse discovered issues with his liver caused by the cancerous cells filling his liver. Since his diagnosis, Tyler has endured weekly chemotherapy - even having to spend Christmas at the hospital due to pancreatitis. Krista recounts one moment when she didn’t know if her son would make it.

    “About a month after diagnosis, Tyler went sepsis and was in the ICU. When he came out, he said, ‘Hey, I’m okay Mom…I didn’t die,’ and tried to make me feel better. That's him - always looking on the bright side." 

    She says his level of maturity and positivity, even in the darkest moments, keeps her moving forward with hope. Because Tyler is still fighting to recover, Krista had to take a leave of absence from work to protect Tyler.

    “It’s not safe for me to be exposed at work in this pandemic, and also take care of him,” she explains. “This 26 Shirts campaign comes at the best time for us as a family." 

    Tyler is stable and in the “interim maintenance” phase of his diagnosis. What keeps him happy through it all? “The Bills! Tyler is feeling super confident and is proud of his team – he is ready for that Super Bowl win. From the very beginning, he has always believed in the Bills and cheered them on.”

    So now, it’s our time to “BILLieve” in Tyler and root for him as he fights to become cancer free.
    Tyler LaDue's shirt launched 1/10/21 and closes out 1/24/21.  
    This story is written by Kate Glaser and provided in partnership with Hope Rises:

    Scott Benjamin

    Scott Benjamin

    Scott Benjamin is described by friends as a “symbol of what Buffalo is all about” and a “shining example” of the power of community.

    The 63-year-old Buffalonian tragically lost his life after a short battle with Covid-19. Seamus Gallivan, the co-founder of Slow Roll Buffalo, remembers Scott as a beam of light and joy within the community bike ride organization.

    “If you’ve ever participated in Slow Roll, you’ve probably shared at least a smile and song with Scott – he was one of those leading lights, who rarely missed a Monday night ride, bringing a low-key kindness and a lotta friends in the process,” Seamus exclaims.

    Scott had a passion for bike riding and joined Slow Roll five years ago. Not only did he bring a fun vibe, he also exuded compassion for those he personally knew, as well as total strangers. Seamus recounts a memory with Scott that will forever remain ingrained in his heart.

    “When my mom first started coming to Slow Roll, she would come by herself. One day, early on, she recognized Scott, and they rekindled an old friendship as he invited her to ride with his group. From that point, he’d say, ‘That’s our mom’ and kept her close to him. That kind of kindness seemed to come easy to him.”
    Scott's daughters spoke to their dad's legacy, as well.
    "My dad meant the world to me," says Nicole Benjamin. "He was always there when I needed him to be - day or night - my hero was there!"
    His other daughter, Myesha Benjamin, says, "I could go to him about anything - we shared secrets, laughs and cries." 
    Funds from the 26 Shirt created in Scott's memory will help in a meaningful way, and one that will help keep his legacy rolling on.
    “Hopefully the proceeds from this shirt will exceed funeral costs, and with that we'll start a bike scholarship in his honor," explains Seamus. 
    As for the Slow Rollers of Buffalo, they plan to carry their friend with them on future rides through the 716. “This is how we roll in Buffalo," Seamus adds. 
    Scott Benjamin's shirt launched 1/4/20 and closes out 1/17/20. 
    This story is written by Kate Glaser and provided in partnership with Hope Rises: 

    Jason Patten

    Jason Patten

    Jason Patten, has been committed to caring for his 11-year-old daughter, who has faced multiple debilitating conditions since birth. She cannot walk or talk, so Jason and his wife, Roxanne, work together to keep up with her care along with their other daughter. But, 2020 proved to be an even tougher year because Jason, himself, was diagnosed with a painful disease.

    “This past February, I started noticing weakness and tingling in my hands, and I didn’t think much of it,” Jason explains. “But it progressed rapidly, and there are some days that I am completely bed ridden.”

    Jason, a former mail carrier who is used to being on his feet for work, was diagnosed with CIDP. It’s a  chronic inflammatory disorder that targets his nerves. The effects have been devastating and Jason is now limited to a walker or wheelchair.

    “I have constant muscle spasms, painful aches across my entire body, my feet swell and my hands totally cramp up to the point of locking. I then need someone to pry them open to help release the pain.”

    The family, who lives in a farm house that dates back to the 1800s, is challenged by the setup of their home because it is not handicapped accessible.

    “It’s an accomplishment somedays if I can just make it outside to my porch to enjoy a nice day,” Jason says. “Going from an active mail carrier and avid outdoorsman, to this…it’s hard not to fall down a dark hole.”

    But, Jason says that he chooses to wake up each day with the hope that the day ahead is a good one – for him and his girls.

    “Having 26 Shirts focus on my story and help my family through a really tough time is an amazing blessing. I am very thankful for 26 Shirts and Buffalo as a whole. GO BILLS!”

    Jason Patten's shirt launched 12/19/20 and closes out 1/3/20. 

    This story is written by Kate Glaser and provided in partnership with Hope Rises: 

    Garnet Loveday

    Garnet Loveday

    “It is what it is” is a motto that 29-year-old Garnet Loveday repeats to himself daily.

     “I cannot change having cancer, but ‘it is what it is’, and I will get through this,” says Garnet.

    This past summer into fall, Garnet and his fiancée, Autumn, were busy planning their wedding. They had big plans ahead of them, but one September morning changed their future.   

    “I had a debilitating headache. I called off work for fear of being sick, and not wanting to expose anyone. But then my headache turned into something much worse, and Autumn called for an ambulance.”

    Garnet had signs of neurological damage and doctors tried to install a shunt, but intense swelling prevented the operation. Doctors told Autumn to prepare for the worst.

    “They told her that I was going to die, and to call my family, who live near Albany, to get to Buffalo quickly,” Garnet explains. “But I got extremely lucky, and they were able to install the shunt after draining the fluid that had built up on my brain.”

    Garnet was put into a medically-induced coma and kept in the ICU for weeks, which is where doctors found a pineal tumor. Through successful surgery, the tumor inside his brain was removed along with the entire pineal gland. But, that tumor left a devastating impact.

    “The good news was that removal of the tumor was successful. The bad news was that it damaged my vision. That is hard for me because I rely on my vision so much – I am a competitive mountain biker, skier, and I don’t know if I will ever have the visual acuity that I did before.”

    Despite a chaotic experience, Garnet was discharged and optimistic for total healing. But a visit to Roswell Park revealed even further challenges.

    “I will never forget the resident’s face – even through his mask - when he told me that I had brain cancer.”

    Thoughts like – ‘How will I survive?’, ‘I want to be a dad someday’, and ‘I need to be here for my future wife’ raced through his head. Garnet immediately began radiation, chemotherapy and even underwent gamma knife surgery to have a fighting chance. He is now on oral chemo medication and will continue that for months, even years if necessary, until he is declared cancer free. 

    “Maybe more stressful than the tumor itself and the cancer diagnosis has been the financial strain of being sick,” he says. “So, when the community rallied behind me, behind us, it gave me a new lease on life.”

    Garnet says moving forward, this experience has taught him to appreciate the simplicity of life.

    “I am trying to connect with people more, and call my mom more. This community has done such a good thing for me, and there is nothing more special than that. I will continue to fight because so many have shown that they care.”

     Garnet Loveday’s shirt launched 12/14/20 and closes out 12/27/20. 

     This story is written by Kate Glaser and provided in partnership with Hope Rises:  

    Ryann Wing

    Ryann Wing

    When Robbin Wing was 20-weeks pregnant, she was put on bed rest. Her amniotic fluid was low, so doctors wanted to proceed with caution. But, at 34-weeks, Robbin went into labor to deliver her third child, a baby girl named Ryann. Robbin had no warning that her NICU baby would have a troubling diagnosis. 
    "I cried when I heard," Robbin says. "I didn't get to see her right away, but when I did it all sank in that we had many challenges ahead of us."
    Baby Ryann was diagnosed with a chromosome syndrome, which greatly impacts growth, development and muscle tone. Along with a cleft palate, she doesn't have the strength to suck or swallow the milk she needs to grow, so Ryann was put on a feeding tube. 
    "Her tiny body also requires oxygen, but I will tell you, she bounces back very quickly," Robbin exclaims. 
    Despite having more than a dozen medical specialists, in home nursing and an upcoming surgery for a facial defect, Robbin describes her daughter as the family's bright light. 
    "Our family may be going through so much, but we all have each other and Ryann is our reason to smile." 
    Now 9-months, Ryann continues to need around-the-clock care and specialized medical attention. Funds raised through the 26 Shirts campaign for Baby Ryann will greatly help with necessary medical equipment and the medical bills that continue to "pile up", according to Robbin. 
    "I am shocked, and also humbled that Del and his team would think of our family...our baby...and choose us," Robbin adds. "With her upcoming facial surgery, this is coming at the perfect time." 
    Baby Ryann's shirt launched 12/7/20 and closes out 12/20/20. 

    This story is written by Kate Glaser and provided in partnership with Hope Rises: