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A bash for Miller's 27th All gifts at the party will go to charity

In many ways, the birthday bash they're throwing on Grand Island today will be pretty typical.

The three dozen or so young guests -- many of them 8- or 9-year-old girls -- will be jumping up and down in a bounce house, playing on a jungle gym and taking whacks at a pinata.

They will also be getting a sugar high from a well-decorated birthday cake.

But this party will have a few unusual twists.

The guest of honor will be a man about to turn 27 -- Sabres goalie Ryan Miller. But he won't be at his own birthday party.

All the gifts, toy stuffed animals, will be donated to Women and Children's Hospital in the name of Miller's charity.

"It's Miller Time . . ." states the computer-generated four-page invitation to the party.

Sophie Carroll, 8, and her buddy, 9-year-old Sarah Nogueira, dreamed up the idea for this party during after-school hours at St. Andrew's Country Day School in the Town of Tonawanda this spring, while looking through Sophie's Sabres programs.

Sophie leafed through her Sabres calendar to find the birthday of the two girls' favorite player, Miller.

When they learned it was July 17, this Tuesday, it didn't take long for the girls to hatch the plan of holding a Ryan Miller birthday party.

Asked who first thought of the idea, each girl quickly pointed the finger at the other -- before breaking into giggles.

The guest list quickly grew to 38 children and 39 adults for the party in Sophie's backyard on Grand Island. The criteria for being invited were pretty simple.

"They're our friends, and they basically all like Ryan Miller," Sophie said. Many will be dressed in Miller or Sabres hats, T-shirts and jerseys.

Sophie's mother, Karen Carroll, wrote a letter to the Sabres and called Miller's Steadfast Foundation.

"We can't have Sabretooth or any of the players come because they're out of town, I think," said Sophie, who quickly became the spokeswoman for the two girls.

The girls' families said they are thrilled about the idea.

"I like it because it's something an 8-year-old would think of doing," said Sophie's father, Scott Carroll. "So we said, 'Why not?' They love the game, they love the team, and they love him as a player."

The idea of guests bringing toy stuffed animals to give to other kids in Miller's name also excited the two girls' relatives.

"I think they're learning a valuable lesson," said Mary Ann Broderick, Sophie's grandmother. "You can think of others besides yourself."

Jane Nogueira, Sarah's mother, said her daughter was born at Women and Children's Hospital and can now give something back in the name of the girls' favorite player.

"I think it's amazing that two girls so young have such a generous side to them," she said.

Miller's out of town on vacation, but Sophie said she believes he'd think the party was "kind of neat and cool."

Why do the two girls like Miller so much?

"I like him because he's a good goalie, and he plays for the Sabres," Sophie said.

Sarah had a different reason:

"I like his eyes. They're pretty."


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