Tyler Boss was glad when the Builders Club at Cloverbank School in Hamburg chose to decorate a herd of small ceramic buffaloes to raise money for Roswell Park Cancer Institute.
He already knew more about Roswell Park than most 9-year-olds because his brother, Zachary, 6, who also attends Cloverbank, has been a patient there for four years.
What better way to show gratitude for helping Zach, he thought, than copying the successful "Herd About Buffalo" art project, which raised $3.1 million for Roswell Park and the Burchfield-Penney Art Center?
"The reason we're doing this is for Roswell. It's been good for my little brother, who has leukemia, and for my uncle, who also has cancer," said Tyler, an avid snowboarder who named his 5-inch-high critter "Boarder Buffalo."
Cleverly outfitted in blue pants, red jacket, ski hat and scarf, "Boarder Buffalo" is poised atop a silver snowboard.
It is among 60 mini-buffaloes that will be auctioned at 7 p.m. Monday in the cafeteria of the Cloverbank Road school. The public is invited.
"The kids decided they should get at least $10 for their buffaloes, but we hope they'll go for more," said Pat Vigilone, a third-grade teacher who advises the Builders Club, a junior group of the Hamburg Kiwanis Club.
The fourth- and fifth-graders who belong to the club decided at the beginning of the year to do a fund-raiser for Roswell Park.
"We thought we'd probably do a popcorn sale," Vigilone said.
Then an anonymous donor with ties to the school purchased the clay buffaloes for the children to decorate.
"The kids are so creative and were so willing to jump in," she remarked. Because there were more than enough miniatures to go around, teachers and staff members wound up painting eight buffaloes.
Nobody has received more satisfaction from the project than Tyler, who confesses that he got some help from his mother, Diane; father, Ron; and older brother, Josh, 12.
Zach is feeling much better these days because of the help he received at Roswell Park, Tyler said.
"For a long time he wasn't eating much," he said. "Now he eats a lot. It's a good thing, because he doesn't want to get sick again and go to the hospital. And I think it's a lot better that he stays home."
Maybe the Cloverdale auction can help Roswell Park "buy more medicine to help other patients and pay their bills so they don't get shut down," Tyler said.