BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)- An 8-year-old boy earned the title of “Band Aid King” in Western New York when he started a band aid drive. He wanted to make sure no child would go home from the hospital with a sad-faced band aid.
“The nurse gave me a frowny-faced band aid and it didn’t make me feel better, so I wanted to get kid-friendly band aids for them”, explained Luke Gworek about why he started his drive.
Although Luke is still receiving treatment for Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, he is also back to doing the things he loves, including hockey. His dad, Bill Gworek, says their ‘hockey family’ has helped get them through the last two years. Luke plays for the Niagara Junior Purple Eagles, and his dad is a coach.
“They were one of our first supporters when Luke was diagnosed. It has just been unbelievable how much of a family we all are”, said Gworek about the team. News 4 watched Luke’s third practice of the year, after he had to sit out an entire season while he was at his sickest point. Luke smiled through his orange mouth guard as he skated easily onto the ice. His helmet has an orange sticker on it too, because that is the color that represents childhood cancers. Although Luke’s jersey, which is blue and white this year, has the number 12 on the back with his last name, his dad thinks it should say “Band Aid King” instead. That’s because they keep collecting boxes and boxes of band aids. Representatives from the Band-Aid Brand company saw Luke’s story after it aired on News 4 in May and sent his family hundreds of boxes. That brings the total numbers of boxes he has collected to more than 5,000. He continues donating the boxes to Roswell, Women and Children’s hospital, and other organizations in need of band aids.
Luke is now in the third grade, which he says is more challenging than second grade. “It’s a little bit harder, our teacher gives us a lot more homework, which I don’t like”, Luke explained with a shake of his head. As is typical for his first day of school, Luke wore a jacket and bow tie, but this year he was also sporting a full head of hair. The picture his mom took is in stark contrast to the first-day-photo from second grade, when he was still bald from his chemotherapy treatments and looking less robust. When he skated out onto the ice at practice, he looked like a healthy, strong, 8-year-old boy, which brings tears to his dad’s eyes as he coaches the team. “It’s unbelievable. Our lives are crazy right now because our kids are very involved, but we look at each other and we say, well, it’s better being crazy and eating dinner on the fly. I’d rather do that, than be in the hospital”, said Bill Gworek about how their lives have changed.
Luke and his family are looking forward to more changes in 2016. He plans to have his final chemotherapy treatment on April 1, 2016 at Roswell Park Cancer Institute. Although he will never truly be ‘cancer-free’, and will have to go for screenings the rest of his life, this final treatment is cause for celebration. His parents plan to do just that, with a party like Luke has never seen.