BUFFALO, NY - Members of the The University at Buffalo wrestling staff and team took some time away from preparing for the Mid-American Conference tournament to visit Carly's Club at Roswell Park Cancer Institute. The group was given a tour of the facilities and met with young cancer patient and her mother, who the team is supporting this season with a $5,000 donation made from the $15,000 in total funds raised by the Takedown Cancer event.
"This is the culmination of ... all the hard work we put into the event," said Mickey Moran, who came up with the concept along with fellow UB wrestling alumni Joe Muscarella. "We get to go down there and its so much fun to get to present this money to the family and we bring some gifts and everybody's smiling. They really fill your heart with positive energy, I can't tell you how moving it is to play a part in making that kid's life better."
Representing the student athletes on the team were seniors Mark Lewandowski, Jedd Mason, and Chris Conti, junior Andrew Schutt, sophomore Matt Dehney, and freshman Tyler Newton. The UB coaching staff was also there, along with Moran and Muscarella, and UB alumni and Takedown volunteer Roger Roll, who all have served as critical fundraising and coordinating cogs since the early days of the Takedown Cancer event.
"This is a family that is fairly poor that has used up all of their aid that Carly's Club can provide," head assistant coach Matt Lackey said. "When we come in with a $5,000 check, it's life-changing for them and I think it's just as much so for the crew we bring in, and that's what life is about and what college is about."
Moran and Muscarella's original concept came from the desire to raise money to fight against cancer, and in particular, to support friend and UB wrestling captain Jeff Parker, '08, who was battling skin cancer that was first identified in the spring of 2009.
The duo spearheaded a group that set a goal of raising $10,000 to support cancer research both in Buffalo and Parker's hometown area of Boston, MA. Instead, the first event ended up raising nearly $35,000 to combat this horrible disease. While the UB wrestling family lost Jeff Parker in May of 2010, the spirit that started the Takedown Cancer program lives on and has now been adopted by all member schools of the New York State Collegiate Wrestling Association.
Now after four Takedown Cancer Fundraisers, the team has raised $98,000 for the Jeff Parker Foundation and to combat cancer through research and monetary support. The goal of the committee at UB – and Muscarella and Moran's wish – is to see Takedown Cancer an active part of every collegiate wrestling program in the nation until we can defeat cancer once and for all.