by Brian Wheeler
There is no time like the present. That's the attitude Ryan Miller
learned to take and it's one that he wants to spread throughout Western New York.
After witnessing first-hand the monotonous, tedious and painful treatments for cancer patients, Miller created a charitable foundation that will benefit children with various illnesses around the Buffalo and East Lansing, Mich. areas.
Miller established the Steadfast Foundation with two main missions in mind. Raising money to help fund the establishment of specialty rooms in hospitals where children can escape the pain and discomfort of their treatments and raising awareness and increasing awareness for the need for heightened community involvement.
"I've been visiting hospitals for a while, but I felt there was something else I could do," he said. "A lot of people are excited about hockey right now. Obviously, you want to use your influence to do something good.
"You have to do whatever it takes to help the kids fight a battle. When you are diagnosed with a disease like that, it's a battle for your life."
In 2005, his cousin, Matt Schoals, 17, was diagnosed with leukemia. Since that day, Miller has taken a person charge to help anyone battling the disease. Building a foundation from the ground up was the next logical progression once he became a professional hockey player.
"I know from talking to my cousin that's the one thing, you just sit in your room," said Miller. "That can get pretty boring no matter how the walls are painted or how many channels they get. Kids need a chance to be social and a place where everyone can meet-up, when they feel up to it, and interact, watch a movie, play some music or just be creative.
"Our approach is that we're just going to compliment the medical side with the mental side. We want to do things that really make it fun to be a kid, whether they are in a hospital or not."
With help from a friend in Rochester, Miller and the Steadfast Foundation will hold its inaugural fundraiser on February 13, 2007. "Catwalk for Charity" combines some of Miller's passions off the ice into a single event with a good cause. Add to the mix his Buffalo teammates modeling Hugo Boss menswear in the in the Asbury Hall at The Church - Ani DiFranco’s venue on Delaware and Tupper in Buffalo - and it's sure to be an entertaining time. Strictly Hip and Jennifer Heieck are scheduled to perform.
Tickets for the 21 and older event are priced at $175 each and can be purchased by calling 204-1212, Ext. 206.
"The first thing that popped into my mind was that I like music and I'm pretty into fashion, so I wanted to combine the two and have a good time," said Miller. " I want to be a part of the Buffalo community. I have a chance to be here a while and I really want to kick it off on the right foot.
"Last year was more of a feeling out process for me. I was more worried about hockey. This year, Buffalo has become my home away from home.
While funding for his vision is important and initial talks with local hospitals have begun, Miller's hope is that the event has a far-reaching effect.
"We want to encourage people to do something good with their time," said Miller. "It doesn't have to be my interests, which fall more along the lines of childhood diseases and cancer. Its just encouraging people to interact more in the community.
"Go from watching TV five nights a week to just four nights. You're going to feel better about yourself."