When eight-year-old Luke Gworek flips a switch during Roswell Park’s 2014 Tree of Hope celebration, nearly 75,000 lights will flash to music and shine from a towering tree in Kaminski Park. He can’t wait for the evening to arrive.
A leukemia patient at Roswell Park, Luke is a modest guy, even in the spotlight. What makes him special? “Nothing, really,” he says. But events of the past year prove otherwise.
For one thing, Luke is the Band-Aid King. He was the driving force behind a campaign to collect boxes of kid-friendly Band-Aids for the Roswell Park Pediatric Department and Women and Children’s Hospital. The idea took shape when he needed a Band-Aid after receiving chemotherapy. All the Band-Aids with fun designs were out of stock, so he had to settle for one with a frowny face. He decided no other kids should have to deal with that disappointment — especially after a hard day in the clinic.
Luke’s appeal launched a Band-Aid bonanza, bringing in donations of more than 500 boxes, and “we continue to get more all the time from people in the community,” says his mom, Danielle. “Sometimes they come from people we don’t even know. It’s amazing what this [project] has done, and he takes pride in it. He likes to always be busy, and he’s an all-around good kid.”
That’s for sure: earlier this year, he helped his family organize Team Luke, whose 25 members raised more than $12,500 for the 2014 Ride for Roswell to support cancer research and patient-care programs. He and his dad, Bill, both earned places in the Ride’s Extra Mile Club for raising at least $1,000 each. The family has also made generous contributions to Carly’s Club at Roswell Park to stock the Pediatric cupboard where other young cancer patients can always find a snack.
A second-grader, Luke enjoys music, trains, hockey and other sports, playing in the snow with his friends, riding his dirt bike, and going to school. He looks forward to taking a drive to look at the holiday lights with his family, including his 13-year-old sister, Faith.
His family will be right beside him as he lights the Tree of Hope. After all, he’ll be the star — and he’s already shining.
Register now to be a part of Luke's magical moment at the Tree of Hope: RoswellPark.org/TreeofHope