Goaltender Ryan Miller has launched a charitable foundation for kids with leukemia and other cancers -- and he's called on his Buffalo Sabres teammates for an assist.
For one night in February, the Sabres will take their sold-out show off the HSBC Arena ice and into Asbury Hall at The Church on Delaware Avenue to assist Miller's Steadfast Foundation.
Miller and his father, Dean, announced the creation of the foundation Friday afternoon.
The new nonprofit organization will raise awareness and money, while funding projects that help children and young adults cope with the pain and discomfort that often accompany cancer treatments, Miller said.
Western New York and Miller's hometown of Lansing, Mich., will be the focal points of the philanthropic efforts, he added.
Miller has a special connection to kids with cancer. He began visiting childhood cancer patients in hospitals while starring on the Michigan State University hockey team, and in 2005, his cousin, Matt Schoals, 17, was diagnosed with leukemia.
"What he's going through is a lot tougher than a losing streak or anything that happens on the ice," Miller said.
One problem is the monotony of treatments.
"I know a lot of these treatments are painful and you have to sit there for a long time," he said.
Miller mentioned setting up movie rooms or music rooms in hospitals, as possible projects worth funding. Even something as simple as a massage chair could be helpful for cancer patients.
"Just how can we make it more comfortable and tolerable?" he said.
Miller said he also hoped to bring some normalcy to the lives of kids suffering from cancer and to rally the community behind sick children.
"They need some support in battling and fighting illness," he said. "The best thing we can do as a foundation is help complement the medical side."
The Millers already have had some informal conversations with Roswell Park Cancer Institute.
Ryan Miller did not immediately announce a personal gift to his foundation, although he did say that he would "take some responsibility for that myself" in the future.
Sales of a special Ryan Miller T-shirt are kicking off the fundraising, as is the "Catwalk for Charity" -- a blend of fashion show, live music, auction and gourmet food offerings scheduled for Feb. 13 in The Church.
That evening, the Sabres will forsake their shoulder pads and skates in favor of Hugo Boss menswear as part of the fashion show, and Miller plans to take the stage with his electric guitar and play a few riffs with the musical acts Strictly Hip and Jennifer Heieck.
Sabres owner B. Thomas Golisano will serve as honorary chairman for the event.
Tickets sell for $175 each for the 21 and older event, beginning Jan. 24, by calling 204-1212, Ext. 206.
Dean Miller said the foundation also will schedule family-friendly events later in the hockey season, as well as events in Lansing during the summer.