BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — An annual tradition for the Buffalo Sabres brings smiles to the faces of not only kids with disabilities, but the players, too.
The team and their mascot Sabre Tooth were at Women and Children’s Hospital Wednesday.
“You feel so much just for the families and these kids that are going through all these different things, so we hope that we can make a few people happy today,” Tyson Strachan, a Sabres defensemen, said.
Many of the children the players are visiting have chronic illnesses and are fighting them, with what the players call a “great deal of courage.”
The Sabres players make the trip annually because of a boy who died nearly 10 years ago. Stone Filipovich died at 4-years-old, and after that, Stone’s Buddies program was born.
“It’s not only cancer. It’s not only our oncology patients. It’s really to make them feel like there’s a support system for them,” Joanne Koessler, Stone’s Buddies director said. “When you have a chronically ill child, your family and your friends typically don’t really understand your struggles”
Kids are still benefitting from a realization Koessler had after Stone died. They had to do more for children, to give them hope and happiness.
Sabres players worked to spread those feelings Wednesday. They worked with kids like Kyle Reimer, a child with a close connection to the Sabres. He plays sled hockey and has had several goals this season.
“We’ve been playing well lately, and it’s nice to kind of step away for a day and see some kids, then get back at it tomorrow,” Tyler Ennis, a Sabres center said.
William Lucas, a child who has had a host of brain surgeries, said he thinks the team is going to finish the season out strong.
“Whatever they do is going to be awesome, and cool, and fantastic and fantabulous!”