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$100 for $1 Kids Day paper shows WNY support of children's campaign

It happened at about 7:30 a.m. Tuesday, as Beth Brawn was selling special Buffalo News Kids Day newspapers with other teachers and students.

A woman stopped at their corner, at Main Street and Transit Road, rolled down her window and gave Brawn a $100 bill for the special $1 edition.

Brawn replied that she didn't have change for such a large bill.

"This is for the kids," the woman replied, as she bought probably the most expensive Kids Day paper purchased Tuesday.

"It gave me goose bumps," Brawn, a Clarence High School physical education teacher, said. "I was just so excited. In all honesty, this is what Buffalo is all about."

That was what Kids Day was all about Tuesday morning.

The rain clouds parted for a few hours, as several thousand Buffalo News Kids Day hawkers camped out at area street corners to sell the special editions, with their colorful four-page wrappers.

"We kind of said a prayer: 'Between 4:30 [a.m.] and 10:30, stop raining,' " said Chuck Fischer, Kids Day coordinator at The News.

"And it did."

An area tradition since 1983, The Buffalo News sale of Kids Day editions raised a total of almost $3.9 million in its first 28 years. Proceeds benefit Women & Children's Hospital of Buffalo, the Robert Warner M.D. Center for Children with Special Needs and the Children's Charities of WNY.

Last year, the special sales contributed $120,000 to the children's campaign, run through the Variety Club of Buffalo. This year's results won't be known for a couple days.

The Kids Day sales have become a local institution. This year, volunteer vendors wearing red baseball caps and blue, red or black aprons gathered at about 900 street corners.

"The camaraderie is a big thing," Fischer said. "On a lot of corners, you get the same people year in and year out."

While some fads die out, Kids Day has remained vibrant, partly because Women & Children's Hospital has been the gift that keeps giving to local families.

"Anybody who's a parent has probably been to Children's Hospital at least once," Fischer said. "They remember that, and they know what the hospital has done for their children."

That is especially the case for people like Heather Britton, of Clarence, who planned to buy 10 copies of the paper Tuesday. Her son Chase, 3, was on the cover of the special-edition wrapper. He lacks a cerebellum, part of the brain responsible for controlling movement and balance.

But Britton and her husband, David, feel another special connection to the Kids Day paper.

The day she found out she was pregnant with her oldest son, Alex, she bought a copy of the Kids Day newspaper. Years later, on her way to an ultrasound before Chase was born, it was Kids Day again, and she bought another copy.

Both times, she had no idea she one day would need the services of Women & Children's Hospital.

When her water broke at 18 weeks during her pregnancy with Chase, she spent five weeks on the fifth floor of Women & Children's.

"You may be eventually helping yourself, even though you don't realize it," she said. "There's so much more out there than people realize -- so much more infant loss, so much more child illness."

e-mail: gwarner@buffnews.com and djgee@buffnews.com

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