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High-tech gifts given to young cancer patients

Mikey 

Les Friedman of the Mikey's Way Foundation gives a high-tech gift to young patient this morning.

LANCASTER -- Christmas was two weeks ago but don't tell that to Les Friedman.

The president and CEO of Mikey's Way Foundation spent the morning giving out high-tech gifts to kids with life threatening diseases. It's just one of 14 similar events planned by the foundation for 2011.

"I know I'm a heavier set guy but I feel like Santa Claus all year long," he said. "It's just a tremendous feeling."

Eleven kids were given iPods, netbook computers and other Internet-ready gadgets today to help keep them connected, entertained and educated during long hospital stays.

The children were called up individually and Friedman helped them choose a gift from a stocked cart.

When they ran out of netbooks, someone from Mikey's Way drove to a Best Buy down the street to buy one for a boy who asked for one.

"The beauty of Mikey's Way is it's really that simple," Friedman said. "The child needs this to have his mind occupied while he's going through chemotherapy and feeling the side effects of the treatment. You don't hesitate."

Today's gift-giving in a theater at the Regal Cinemas on Transit Road marked the first Mikey's Way - Make-A-Wish Day. Mikey's Way -- which was founded by Friedman's late son -- usually gives its gifts out in local pediatric hospitals.

"They'll give out these gifts to these kids who aren't expecting anything and are in the middle of a treatment and are waiting the days out watching daytime TV, which is horrendous," said Ryan Erwin, board chairman of Make-A-Wish Foundation of WNY.

Tracy Cody's 14-year-old son, Chris, received a laptop today. He's undergoing treatment at Roswell Park Cancer Institute for a rare cancer.

"Knowing Christopher he'll play games," Cody said while her son was inside the theater watching a 3D showing of "How to Train Your Dragon." "He loves his online games -- Lord of the Rings right now."

"He's excited. His whole face lit up."

Watch this video of the patients receiving gifts:

--Joseph Popiolkowski

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