Cerebral Palsy is a condition that doesn’t discriminate, it truly affects a cross section of life. While no community, race, gender or socioeconomic class is spared, it’s when communities come together that real understanding and progress can be achieved.
Buffalo Bill Eric Wood knows the perils of CP all too well. While the hulking 6’4, 310-pound Center focuses on battling fellow behemoths on Sundays, he has experienced the emotions — struggles and victories that accompany supporting a family member with the condition. His younger brother suffered from severe CP and unfortunately passed away when Eric was just 14-years-old.
His first-hand experience of how CP affects families served as the inspiration for his philanthropic efforts through the Eric Wood Foundation, founded in 2014. The organization works to both raise aid to give individuals with CP “exciting experiences” and provide financial relief to their families in Buffalo and Louisville, KY where Wood attended college.
Wood held his second annual “Dinner for a Difference” this past Wednesday at the Hyatt Regency Ballroom in Downtown Buffalo. The event serves as an outlet to give back to both communities that have influenced his life.
The 3-course dinner provided opportunity to converse over cocktails, bid on select memorabilia and meet other members of the Buffalo Bills — all while raising money to support the CP community. Several of Wood’s teammates, including quarterback Tyrod Taylor, Richie Incognito, and Sammy Watkins, served Hors d’oeuvres as diners were treated to live music along with the memorable evening.
Wood’s initiative spotlights Individuals with special needs in Buffalo, NY as he remembers what kind of issues members of his family worked through.
“My brother spent the majority of his life in a home or at the hospital. so when I meet families with sick children, I feel like I can relate,” Wood said. “The times that my brother was at home, we had a nurse in our house 24-7—that’s invasive on a family. I understand a lot of the struggle financially and emotionally that happens. So when I set out to start a foundation, we had a few goals.”
Wood’s foundation augments community efforts and brings additional positive attention to developmental disabilities in Erie County. Assistance is available including therapies, assistive technology/devices and vocational training for the developmentally disabled in WNY
Last year’s event alone raised $60,000 that has and will continue to make a difference in the lives of thousands of ill children. Whether an individual suffers from Cerebral Palsy personally or has been affected by a family member who does, Eric Wood’s outreach continues to teach important lessons. Specifically that community is an integral part of establishing support, understanding and most importantly….progress.