Buffalo, N.Y. (WBEN) – Gwen Mysiak is on a very personal journey. She was doing communications for Public Broadcasting in Buffalo and was not looking for a career change. But in 2010, her cousin’s son received a terminal cancer diagnosis when he was 13. That’s when everything changed for her.

Gwen Connected with Brian Moorman, the former Bills Punter, who started P.U.N.T. Pediatric Cancer Collaborative. P.U.N.T. stands for perseverance, understanding, need, and teamwork.

“I took over as Executive Director in 2012,” Mysiak said. “The one thing I learned when I started, is that there is a total lack of support for the bereaved population. Within a year I established a bereavement retreat here in Western New York. It’s modeled after the program that former New York Giants coach Tom Coughlin’s Foundation was running. I brought it to Buffalo and for ten years we’ve been bringing families together for a Bereavement Retreat in Ellicottville.”

In addition, P.U.N.T provides financial, emotional and other support to families facing a pediatric cancer diagnosis.

“It’s hard enough to think about a child having cancer, let alone not making it. But it’s those families who need us the most. Their hope is gone, their child is gone, their finances are decimated and they’re trying to figure out how to breathe again.”

Jonathan McGrath lost his 2 year old son Cooper to cancer in 2021. He had a very aggressive brain tumor and was in Pediatric Intensive Care at Oishei Children’s Hospital for over 50 days.

“That’s when I made a phone call to Gwen and P.U.N.T. It was a call I wish I never had to make but the organization has been a real collateral blessing to me and my family,” he said.

In the wake of their loss, McGrath and his wife started coming into PUNT and they started planning an event in Cooper’s memory.

“The worst thing has happened. But the second worst thing is to have your child forgotten. Our event involved bowling and was called PINS for PUNT. We’ve been doing it for three years.”

McGrath became so valuable to the organization; he now works there.

“Here I am full time. I’ve seen so many other families affected by this. It’s one of those things where you wish you never met someone, but you’re very glad you did.”

Mysiak said she is honored to be recognized as “Selfless Among Us,” and that she can do something professionally that she is so personally passionate about. “I’m proud of the work that we’re doing. It’s not easy, but we know how important it is.”

Gwen Mysiak, Jonathan McGrath of P.U.N.T

Gwen Mysiak, Jonathan McGrath of P.U.N.T. Photo credit Gwen Mysiak