Episode 1: Celebrating the Anniversary of the Variety Club Telethon
By: Natalie Gravino
Buffalo, NY–On March 5th, it marked 60 years since Dr. Robert Warner approached Variety Buffalo
with a dream of creating a rehabilitation center, and partnered with Channel 2 to launch the very
first Variety Kids Telethon in order to make that dream a reality.
The story behind this kindhearted club truly begins in 1927 after a series of unforeseen
events. Variety was originally a social club in Pittsburgh, a place for members of the
entertainment industry to have a drink, a good laugh with friends, and even watch a performance
As eleven men from the industry were escaping the routine of their daily life with a game
of cards, they heard what sounded like a baby’s cry coming from the auditorium. The men
following the sound were led to a one-month-old baby girl with a letter pinned beside her.
The letter was from a distressed mother unable to care for the girl, Catherine, due to
financial troubles and the need to care for her eight other children. The mother prayed someone
at the club would try to find it in their heart to take in Catherine, and with the inability to locate
the parents, eleven godfathers were born.
Their love and support for Catherine became the inspiration behind the charity. The
newly made godfathers set out to raise money and acquire goods for her. Her story and the
Variety club was on every front page of the paper, and quickly took the U.S. by storm. The
obscene amount of publicity led to donations pouring in, and eventually the amount of money
raised became too much for just one little girl. A portion of the money was soon given to other
disadvantaged and orphaned children who became beneficiaries of her “adoption” by the club
Today, Variety has 42 offices in 13 countries making it their mission to serve the unmet
needs of sick, disabled, and disadvantaged children at a local, national, and international level.
Local variety chapters are called tents, and Buffalo/WNY has the honor of being tent 7,
also known as the oldest chapter in the world. Our tent was named after Dr. Warner himself after
launching his first telethon. The telethon not only raised $80,000, but it created the Robert
Warner MD Center for Children with Special Needs, a department at Oishei Children’s Hospital,
and the Children’s Rehabilitation Foundation as a way to channel donations to Oishei Children’s
Hospital, along with other children’s charities.
All donations stay local and go directly towards funding equipment and programs.
Variety also provides grants to numerous other smaller children’s nonprofit organizations in
Western New York who depend on them to operate.
Tune in Saturday, March 5th from 6pm to 11pm on WGRZ (channel 2), and Sunday March 6th, from 10am to 8pm on WBBZ (channel 67.1, cable 5) to watch tens of thousands pledge, and hear 2022 celebrity child Giovani Fiore tell his story. To learn more about Variety Club, visit their website.
Episode 2: Ukraine
By: Zachary Williams
Buffalo, NY–On February 24, Russia launched an invasion on Ukraine, firing missiles towards the city of Kyiv. Since then, The world has shown its support for Ukraine, supplying ammunition and weapons to them, and placing numerous sanctions against Russia. The citizens of Buffalo have also shown their support for Ukraine, holding a rally in front of city hall. Many of them were either from Ukraine, or had family there.
The European Union has offered much support for the Ukrainian Military. Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered Russia’s nuclear arms to be on high alert. Anstasiya Bigun, A Ukrainian Student at UB urges people to help raise awareness, since the Ukrainian people are busy defending the frontlines.
Anstasiya Bigun said, “It’s really important to stay active to spread awareness. We need to get to Russian people so they can make an influence on Putin.”
Marta Kasiyan, who was born in Ukraine has a lot of family and friends still living in Ukraine, and has been staying in contact with them as much as she can.
Marta Kasiyan said, “I message them every day just where are you how are you, and they know the world is with them.”
On this episode, host Elizabeth Carey sat down with Barbara Makuch, a former double agent spy in the 1980’s, when Vladimir Putin was still in the KGB, along with Dr. A.K. Shauku, a Political Science Professor at Buffalo State College, who began his career in Army intelligence. Both guests agreed that the United States could have done more to prevent the invasion from happening.
Episode 3: The Buffalo Medical Corridor
By: Gracelyn Rife
The Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, located in downtown Buffalo, has made recent advancements in medical treatments and breakthroughs with patient care.
This is a testament to the work of over two dozen healthcare related facilities throughout the past 20 years. This includes the University at Buffalo Jacobs School of Medicine and Roswell Park.
A notable partnership would be the Kevin Guest House, which was created to help families by offering a place to stay while their loved ones receive medical treatment. Considered America’s first hospitality house, the Kevin Guest House has inspired over 600 other facilities around the world to follow in those same footsteps.
According to Allegra Jaros, President of the John R. Oishei Children’s Hospital, the help of these institutions make it possible for Western New York to have access to vital resources, such as better healthcare, a stronger economy, and a cohesive community.
The Medical Corridor relies on donations and the community to help it grow. The future of these partnerships and resources will come down to awareness, which will help ensure the future for this wonderful group of institutions. To learn more about Kevin Guest House, click here. For more on the Oishei Children’s Hospital, click here.
Episode 4: The Renaissance of Buffalo
By: Michael Argentieri
In the early 20th century the City of Buffalo was booming. Over the course of the next generations Industry was thriving…but in the 50’s the population began to decline. That decline continued until about 2010. In 2020, United States Census numbers revealed Buffalo’s first population growth in 70 years. When Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown took office in 2006… he says the city was very different than it is now.
“Buffalo’s landscape was dotted with vacant, unsalvageable structures. We created a plan to remove those structures. Now, we’ve demolished more than 8,000 vacant structures, making our neighborhoods safer, more walkable,” said Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown.
Health care and technology are just a few industries taking Buffalo in a new and brighter direction. Congressman Brian Higgins says they are part of the reason younger people are moving back into the city.
“When you expand these institutions, a lot of employees in the health care industry… want to live near where they work. So, that has created a demand for a lot of historic and architecturally significant buildings which have been developed for commercial and residential mixed uses,” Representative Brian Higgins said.
Different areas of the city, from the Medical Corridor to Larkinville, to Canalside and the Outer Harbor have seen tremendous growth over the past 20 years. Another exciting development is the growing film industry. Two movie studios are being built in the city, and Mayor Brown says more than 700 people are working full-time making movies in Western New York.
To learn more about the Buffalo Niagara Film Office, click here.
Episode 5: New Stadium for the Buffalo Bills
By: Jenna Fields
Back in 1960, the Buffalo Bills were created. And dating back to 1979 the Buffalo Bills built their home at what is now known as the Highmark Stadium. In recent developments, there was talk about moving the Bills stadium to a new location.
With the talk of a new stadium, many fans were conflicted about the idea. There were many concerns including if the updated stadium will include having a dome and having more seats. One main concern is that the stadium will be funded largely with taxpayers’ dollars. On March 28th, a tentative deal between state and county officials and the Buffalo Bills was announced. A new stadium is planned in Orchard Park, across the street from the current Highmark Stadium. The state will pay $600 million dollars of the cost, and Bills owners Terry and Kim Pegula will contribute $350 million. The deal guarantees that the team will stay in Western New York for 30 years. For more information, click here.
The cost is estimated to be 1.4 billion dollars. The new stadium could open as soon as 2026.
Episode 6: Real Estate and Construction Boom
By: Skylar McKelvie
Buffalo’s home prices have skyrocketed, being the highest many people have ever seen. The supply of available homes for sale has decreased leading to the demand for housing increasing tremendously. The fewer houses on the market causes an increase in buyers’ bids due to the competition. According to the National Association of Realtors, the current median home price in Buffalo is $117,300.
Buyers are trying to lock in the low mortgage rates and older homeowners are struggling to pay due to the increase in taxes. Dr. Micheal Niman who has lived in Elmwood Village for the past 20 years has seen the increase with his own eyes in his community.
“You know people who might’ve bought their house for $35,000 are now worth $450,000 but they can’t afford to pay the taxes on them because taxes are based on what that asset value is,” Niman says.
Alex Miller from Forbes Capretto Homes says the desire for new build construction is the highest he has ever seen. “I’ve heard shortages within plastics, within oils. There are a lot of different components whether it’s Pvc pipe, vinyl siding, roofing material… all these components go into building a home,” Miller says. Delays have been up to six months to a year.
Hundreds of shipping containers are stuck off the coast of California, adding further shipping delays within the United States.
With factories in Vietnam shutting down due to a COVID outbreak, the front-end of the United State’s furniture supply chain is badly affected, said Mark Schumacher, CEO of Home Furnishings.
Episode 7: Restaurants Surviving the Pandemic
By: Danielle Graham
In March of 2020, Covid-19 shut down over 100,000 establishments nationwide due to the pandemic. The city of Buffalo is well-known for its unique food culture that is affordable and suitable for both visitors and locals. However, as the pandemic worsened, many restaurants in Buffalo were forced to shut down either temporarily or permanently.
The Eagle House, one of the longest-running establishments in Buffalo, was hit significantly hard during the initial lockdown. It was established in 1827 by Oziel Smith when he bought land in the Williamsville Village to build his tavern. With the effect of the pandemic, The Eagle House briefly struggled to stay open. However, they received numerous donations from loyal customers and a massive shoutout from David Portnoy on Barstool Sports, which helped them keep their restaurant open. The Barstool Fund raised $41million, which was spread to help 443 small businesses around the country. Today the Hanny Family runs the restaurant proudly serving Oziel Smith’s recipes.
D.A. Taste, a popular taco restaurant located in South Buffalo, decided to turn its house into a curbside carryout restaurant. In June 2020, D.A. Taste owners Azrael Laia and Dominick Buster opened a restaurant in their house where customers could drive and pick up their orders. A year later, they transitioned from an at-home restaurant to their station in a convenience store. In October 2021, they bought a building to open a restaurant and finally called a place their own. After undergoing a massive reconstructive process, they finally opened their restaurant for business in December 2021. Dominick and Azrael saw the pandemic as an opportunity, a time to reinvent themselves as prospering business owners.
Along with D.A. Taste, Ilio DiPaolo’s restaurant and ringside lounge also became better from the pandemic than ever. The restaurant opened in 1965 in Western New York. The DiPaolo family says they survived the pandemic mainly because their staff comprises family and close friends. They also continuously receive support from their loyal customers through Door Dash and tourists. As a result, they continue to satisfy customers with old-fashioned Italian recipes, a warm family atmosphere, and pleasant, professional service.
Epiode 9: Dyngus Day
By: Andrew McClare
Buffalo, NY– On Monday, April 18th, the city of Buffalo held its annual Dyngus Day celebration. Each year the Polish traditions envelop the community and bring everyone together to share food, sing and dance, and of course enjoy the Dyngus Day parade.
While the holiday is historically Polish it has become a celebration for any and all who wish to join in on the fun. Even rain and cloudy weather couldn’t stop Buffalo from coming together to celebrate the festivities this year.
The main event of Dyngus Day involves everyone tapping each other with pussywillows and dousing one another with water. The pussywillows symbolize playful flirting and fun water gun fights have replaced the brutal buckets of water from years past.
The Dyngus Day parade finally returned after two years of pause due to the pandemic and boasted over 100 unique floats in its line up.
Another important aspect of Dyngus Day celebration is the traditional Polish foods such as pierogies, kielbasa and placek.
The holiday dates back to 966 AD in Europe, and Buffalo started celebrating in the 1960’s. Today Buffalo is the Dyngus Day capital of America!