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by Kevin Snow / Buffalo Sabres
Patrick Kaleta

To say that Patrick Kaleta bleeds blue and gold would be an understatement. Born and raised in Western New York, the 26-year-old Kaleta takes special pride in wearing the Sabres uniform each and every time he takes to the ice.

Kaleta also takes pride in his community, and his HITS Foundation is just another example of that. HITS stands for “Helping Individuals to Smile,” and Kaleta did just that on Tuesday when he stepped up to help 42-year-old Rick Jarosz of Blasdell.

Injured in a forklift accident 17 years ago, Jarosz still requires crutches to walk, and needs a specially-equipped car and motorized scooter to get around. But the single dad had his world turned upside down again recently when thieves stole both his car and scooter right out of his driveway.

After hearing about the story, Kaleta’s HITS Foundation was one of many local organizations that stepped up to help Jarosz, offering him the use of a vehicle installed with the hand-controls necessary for him to drive.

Here’s more from WGRZ:

The process of getting an insurance check for the vehicle and equipment could take up to a month to begin, as the insurance company allows time for the possible recovery of the vehicle.

After our story aired, WGRZ-TV received numerous e-mails and phone calls from viewers wishing to help, with everything from offering Jarosz rides, to gently used scooters... even offers of quiet money, which we shared with him, so that he can get in contact with those good Samaritans for whom he is most appreciative.

“It says that Buffalo’s a great community,” Jarosz told Channel 2. “They are always there willing to help people and I am very grateful and appreciative of all the offers that you have gotten and all the phone calls that I have gotten from friends I went to high school with that I haven’t seen in years. They’ve been calling me out of the blue and offering to help me. It’s a great feeling.”

The West Herr Automotive group sent a representative to Jarosz’s home on Tuesday with a new Ford Explorer, which while not outfitted the hand controls he would need to drive it, can be operated by the driver they’ve offered to provide to get him around when needed.

Word of all this also reached Buffalo Sabre Patrick Kaleta, who says his HITS Foundation will help with transportation as well, by providing a van with hand controls so that Jarosz can drive himself if he wishes.

Kaleta personally visited Jarosz at his home to make the offer on Tuesday.


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