Skip to primary navigation Skip to main content

Part-timers sought to conduct Roswell phone research surveys

Roswell Park Cancer Institute is looking to hire 30 people to help tobacco researchers conduct surveys.

“It’s great for retirees or students, somebody with computer skills,” said Lisa Hatch, administrative director of the Survey Research and Data Acquisition Resource at the hospital.

The part-time positions, which have flexible hours and pay about $10 an hour, involve phone calls to survey the public regarding opinions about trends in tobacco use, knowledge, attitudes and behaviors. Applicants must have a high school education, excellent computer skills, a clear speaking voice, strong reading skills and a stable employment history. To learn more about these job openings or to apply, click here

Listening session set at City Hall on farm food policy

The state Council on Food Policy will host a listening session titled “Farm, Food and Policy: Getting It Right in New York State” this week in Buffalo City Hall.

The session will run from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Wednesday in the Council Chambers on the 13th floor.

The council advises policymakers on the value of safe, fresh, nutritious and affordable food for all New Yorkers. It is focused on strengthening the connection between local food and consumers; supporting efficient and profitable agricultural food production and food retail planning; fostering a culture of healthy and local eating; and maximizing participation in food and nutrition assistance programs.

RSVPs are not required, but those who look to attend and/or present comments may do so no later than Monday by calling the state Department of Agriculture and Markets at (518) 457-1721 or emailing

As she nears 70, a life of exercise pays off for Middleport woman


YMCA fitness instructor Pam Eaton, left, has encouraged Gloria Fierch to keep exercising.

By Gloria Fierch – Contributing writer

Exercise is so important as you age. My personal experience has taken me from doing little or no exercise at age 40 to being a group exercise instructor certified in pilates and Silver Sneakers now – at nearly 70 years old. 

Early on, I began with aerobics and yoga in our local high school gymnasium. From there, I moved on to our local YMCA, GLOW YMCA in Medina.

At the Y, I enrolled in step classes and cardio-kick classes. I must admit that in the beginning, they seemed extremely strenuous. Progressing through my 50s and into my 60s, I realized that the more classes I attended, the better I became. This went on for several years, having the same instructor, Pam Eaton. 

She was very encouraging and this helped a great deal in my wishing to continue. As I found my physical endurance and strength increase, I decided to attempt the Boot Camp class. Pam encouraged me, even though I was significantly older than anyone else in the class. 

Initially, I was unsure whether I could truly do the Boot Camp class, but Pam and the personal trainer instructing the class, Mike Eaton, would not let me give up without giving it some time. 

After a few classes, I found that not only could I keep up with the younger participants, I truly loved the class and all of the people in the class!

The classes at the local YMCA have been physically beneficial for me. My flexibility has greatly increased. Also, I have improved balance, and sleep comes more easily. My bone density has increased, my blood pressure is low, my endurance has exceeded anything I could have ever expected and I am truly physically fit.

Encouragement from both of these instructors has made me realize how important exercise is for all ages. Equally important as I rapidly approach age 70 – I require no medication.

These two people have been a major benefit to our community through their efforts at the YMCA over these many years. At 69, I feel very healthy and realize that 70 may not be so old after all, if one exercises – yes, even Boot Camp – and has a healthy diet, along with caring instructors like those at the YMCA as well as wonderful friends in class.

– Gloria Fierch lives in Middleport.

Parents can play a big role in snuffing out teen gambling

With so many temptations, “the goal is to delay the onset of problems for as long as possible. The younger a person is to try a cigarette, try gambling, fill in the blank, the more likely there’s going to be problems associated with that behavior,” says Matthew G. Smith, executive director of Preventionfocus. (Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News)

Scott Scanlon – Refresh Editor

Preventionfocus Executive Director Matthew G. Smith likes to talk about the Surgeon General’s Report on cigarette smoking when he describes the struggle – and importance – of addiction prevention.

It isn’t easy, but it’s worth it.

It’s been 50 years since the report warned of the dangers of smoking tobacco.

“We have moved over those 50 years from a reality of 43 percent smoking in the year after the report came out to now about 18 percent of Americans smoking. Such an incredible shift in behavior didn’t happen by itself and didn’t happen overnight,” said Smith, subject of today’s In the Field feature in WNY Refresh.

“You’ve got to understand it’s a big boat to turn when you’re trying to change peoples’ attitudes,” Smith said, “but it can work, and it does work all the time.

“The Surgeon General reported the link between cigarette smoke and cancer,” he said. “Somebody had to have the idea that should be placed right on the cigarette pack. And somebody had to make that a law and somebody had to enforce that law for that label to be there. If you think about what life looked like back then, watch a black-and-white movie. Watch an old TV show. There was the apparent reality of everybody smoking, of smoking appearing to be normal. Fast forward to today and you see smokers huddled outside in a snow storm because they can’t smoke indoors, and you see cigarette prices gone through the roof because of the taxation as a result of regulation.

“You used to have vending machines where you could just put money in and pull a cigarette pack out. Now it’s not even on the shelf in front of the clerk at 7-Eleven. You gotta have them reach back to go get it for you so the little kids can’t shoplift and get hooked.

"All these changes happened because real people got together and said, ‘Hey, what about ...’ and worked with legislators to create laws – because laws are a great shaper of behavior and norms. Then, it has to be enforced.

"Then there’s people like us who go into a classroom and talk to kids about how to make a healthier, safer decision in a drug context. We certainly hope it leads to attitudes that are sticking with them throughout their lives.”

Smith and his wife, Lisa, who teaches in the Lake Shore school district, have four major reasons this sort of work is important: their children, Logan, 21, Austin, 19, Cameron, 17, and Allison, 12.

When Smith talks about work in the prevention field needing to be more than “Fun Police” talk, he puts his actions where his thinking is – he’s coached 67 youth baseball, softball and soccer teams in the Southtowns.

“The decision-making stuff is some of what I’m proudest of,” Smith said about his employment and volunteering life. “Kids are not miniature adults. They do not have the same brains that we have, and that’s a good thing. My brain in the body of a toddler – in addition to being creepy (with a laugh) – would also mean that the kid probably would never learn to walk, because he or she would know that they’re going to fall. ... Kids are wired to touch that stove. Kids, when they get to 12, 13 or 14, it’s different things they’re thinking: ‘I’m going to rebel, I’m going to experiment, I’m going to explore the world.’

"It’s that lack of fear, that lack of understanding of cause and effect, that allows us to grow and expand our boundaries. But it also sets us up for possible dangers that parents, of course, would rather keep their kids from.

“Kids can be like cars with no brakes. If you can teach them to have a brake, that helps a lot, because cause and effect – the skill of weighing pros and cons before someone makes a decision – if we can impart that to a younger person at an earlier age, we can save them from a whole bunch of bad things.”

With so many temptations, “the goal is to delay the onset of problems for as long as possible,” Smith said. “The younger a person is to try a cigarette, try gambling, fill in the blank, the more likely there’s going to be problems associated with that behavior.”

Which brings Smith to one of the big temptations of summer: teen gambling.

 “The problem with this one: you aren’t going to smell gambling on their breath,” he said. “It can creep up on you. Online gaming is a big thing for young people. It’s probably impossible for parents to monitor everything their kids do, considering the multitude of electronic devices at their fingertips – and that they are very good at compared to us. So the learning curve is high, and it’s always changing. The anonymity of the solitary online gaming gets unreal after a fashion, and you don’t really know what’s happening until, all of a sudden, large sums of money are missing.”

Smith said a lot of the signs and symptoms of compulsive gambling mirror adolescence:

• Irritability, mood swings, sums of money missing, sums of money showing up, items of value showing up.

• Bragging or talking about gambling.

• “An overly excited response to a sports score that comes up that doesn’t involve the Bills or the Sabres.”

• New friends that you hadn’t seen before.

• A loss of interest in activities your teen always liked.

• A daily or weekly card game.

• Absences from school, anxiety, depression.

“They may be more irritable than normal because they’re chasing losses,” Smith said. “That’s one of the key indicators of whether there’s a problem or not: ‘It’s going to turn around for me,’ ‘I can’t stomach the fact that I lost all this money; I’ve got to get that money back.’ ‘I’ll throw more money at it, that’s how I’m going to get it back.’ It’s that chasing the losses that shows that compulsive behavior, problem gambling.”

Fewer than half of parents discuss gambling with their children, even though it’s all around them, Smith said.

“It’s mostly innocuous and that’s why most people don’t care about it,” Smith said. “No church, no Little League, no small philanthropic organization seems to be able to exist without it, because without the 50/50 split or the big boffo raffle at the end of the season or the Chinese auction, these organizations don’t know how to exist, so it’s there.

“The vast majority of us do that and it’s fine ... but if you have a family history where someone in the family was a compulsive gambler, that’s something to consider just like heart disease or the drug addict. That’s there. Family history’s a big deal.”

Smith recommends parents talk to their teens about gambling, and use the following talking points:

• Despite what they might see on “ESPN 60,” gambling is not a way to make money; there are far, far more losers than big winners.

• Gambling is a business set up so the “house” makes money. There’s a reason casinos look as flashy as they do, and can afford to employ hundreds of workers. Losing gamblers pay for that largess.

• Because the system favors the house, the probability is that the longer you spend gambling, the more money you will lose.

• There are consequences aside from losing money when it comes to gambling: loss of relationships, bad grades, mood changes including depression, and a greater likelihood you will participate in other risky behaviors.

The next time you as a parent see a gambling billboard or TV poker game, Smith said, use that as an opportunity to open a dialogue.

For more tips on how to guide that conversation, visit and download activity sheets or watch a problem gambling video with your children.

Other important websites to view include, and, and the gambling page at

“You’ve got to meet people where they are,” Smith said, “and you’ve got to talk to them not in absolutes but in ways that can help bring them along without turning them off and tuning you out.

“If you start to see a problem, the Hopeline, 1-877-8HOPENY, is a great number to call for a myriad of mental health or substance abuse issues that might manifest."

Parents of teens sometimes find themselves saying to themselves, “It’s about media, it’s about peers, it’s about friends now. I don’t matter,” Smith said. “The truth is you do. They are looking to you. The trick is from when they’re little, you’ve got to tell them how you feel about it, explain the risks and tell them you do not want them to go down that path and here are the reasons why. And you’ve got to say it over and over again.”


Twitter: @BNrefresh

Insurance benefit will have Buffalo man smiling wider on his wedding day

Brendan Heavey is shopping at two grocery chains now that only one chain is participating in the Independent Health nutrition benefit program. (Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News)

By Scott Scanlon – Refresh Editor

Psst, here’s a tip from an inside source when it comes to the benefits of the six-month-old Independent Health nutrition benefit:

It can save those who have the benefit quite a bit of money – and help them lose weight.

Those with the benefit gobbled up nearly $240,000 in Tops Friendly Markets in-store gift cards in the first half year of the program by buying fruits and vegetables at the grocery chain.

“I’m a lifelong Wegmans shopper, so it’s really changed my shopping habits, as well. I go to Tops and Wegmans now. I buy my produce from Tops,” said Brendan Heavey, 34, an Independent Health actuarial analyst who lives in the Elmwood Village.

He is among thousands in the region eligible for his company’s nutrition benefit, though many have not yet signed up for it.

Those who participate get $1 in Tops gift card money for every $2 they spend on fresh fruits and vegetables. The benefit has put $400 back into Heavey’s pocket – and the timing couldn’t be better.

This fall, he will marry his girlfriend, Sarah Cercone, a grad student in University at Buffalo School of Public Health.

He signed up for the nutrition benefit because he wanted to lose weight for the wedding.

“It was kind of a perfect storm of sorts,” he said. “I was planning to lose some weight for the wedding by just increasing physical activity and going out for runs, but the nutrition benefit really impacted my pocketbook and gave me the incentive to start eating healthier than I was eating.

“It’s really been nice to load up my carts with vegetables and have a little help.”

Heavey has worked at Independent Health for about three years, focusing on commercial pricing of insurance plans, stats and databases. He has a bachelor’s degree in computer science from the University of Rochester and a master’s from UB in public health, with a focus in biostatistics – as well as his share of student loans.

And did we say he’s getting married?

“The monthly food budget is certainly impacted” with help from the benefit, he said, “and that frees up some money for other things.”

Here’s how the benefit works:

Heavey filled out a health assessment online and gave his Tops Bonus Card number to become eligible.

“Once they have that,” he said, “I scan my bonus card every time I go to Tops and it counts up automatically the total dollars spent on produce, and then it calculates half of that, which gets added to the bottom of my receipt each week. That comes up with the total for the whole year.

Once every three months, he receives a gift card to Tops from Independent Health that can be used to buy anything in the store - except tobacco products.

“I use that to buy more vegetables,” said Heavey, subject of tomorrow’s What are you Eating? feature in WNY Refresh.

Since he started using the benefit, he’s lost 15 pounds and watched the top number of his blood pressure drop from 135 to below 120, he said. He also bought a juicer.

He plans to wait for his final tux fitting until “the last minute,” he said, because he aims to lose another 10 pounds before his wedding.

“I’ve been much more active,” he said. “My long runs now are about six miles, which is up from three before. I’ve been doing yoga as well, which my fiancé got me into in the winter.”

Her eating habits have changed, too.

“She’s eating a lot more fruits and vegetables because I’ve got them around the house,” Heavey said.

If even a few employees changed their shopping behaviors like Heavey, how could that impact a company’s bottom line?

“It’s hard to put an exact dollar to that,” said Independent Health spokesman Frank Sava, “but Brendan is an example about how proper eating can help with your overall health.

“About 75 percent of health care costs are due to chronic conditions and the majority of those chronic conditions are due to lifestyle behavior,” Sava said. “If we can make improvements there, it will lower the incidence of chronic disease.”

Heavey appreciates the benefit, which will help him look his best for his fall wedding – and feel his best during a holiday honeymoon in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.

The big day comes on Oct. 11 – 92 days from a week ago Friday, when I interviewed Heavey.

“I have a countdown app on my phone,” he said.

What else would you expect from an actuarial analyst?


Twitter: @BNrefresh

Lawn chairs welcome tonight at Subaru 4-Mile Chase

Pre- and post-race gatherings will be part of the fun this evening during the 34th running of the Subaru Buffalo 4-Mile Chase, to benefit the Police Athletic League of Buffalo.

Prerace activities start at 5 p.m., including music by the Mirage Band. The race starts at 7, at Bidwell Parkway and Elmwood Avenue. Leon and the Forklifts will be the featured entertainment after the race.

The cost is $30 for same-day registration and you can register near the starting line anytime today before the race. Children under 14 are eligible for a discounted entry fee and runners older than 70 are free. A special free kids race for boys and girls ages 5 to 13 also will begin at 7 p.m.

Lawn chairs are welcome for those who plan to enjoy the entertainment.

First Buffalo Ninja Warrior competition takes place Sunday

By Scott Scanlon – Refresh Editor

Does someone in Western New York have what it takes to master an American Ninja Warrior obstacle course?

Fans and fitness buffs have a chance to see first-hand on Sunday as three athletes who have been on the hit NBC television series come to Hybrid Fitness to compete against more than 40 contestants during the first Buffalo Ninja Warrior contest.

“The course I put out has been really thought out, and it tests all components of fitness, from balance to strength to grip to jumping ability to mental toughness, so it doesn’t favor one particular discipline of fitness,” said Patrick Hall, who moved his gym three months ago from Delaware Avenue into a bigger space at 475 Ellicott St., behind Sea Bar, so he could build obstacles similar to those on “American Ninja Warrior.”

Contestants this weekend will try to master 17 obstacles set up in three stages. The field will be whittled to 18 after the first stage – 15 men and three women – and if any contestants get through the first two stages, the winner will be chosen from the person who does Stage 3 the fastest, Hall said.

Obstacles include TV show mainstays such as the Warped Wall, Salmon Ladder and Quintuple Steps, as well as one Hall calls the Reverse Traverse: Contestants will need to jump from a trampoline to a set of nun chucks dangling 10 feet from the ceiling, then, with their feet, they'll have to grab a rope six feet in front of them, pull it to themselves and swing to a set of five floating bars also hanging from the ceiling, “all over a gymnastics spring floor, so it’s safe.”

Show contestants scheduled to participate include Henry Ferrarian, of Yonkers, and David Coughlin and Jenny Lawler, a husband-and-wife couple from Boston, Mass.; Coughlin is still in the running for this year’s finals.

Hall, 37, of Orchard Park, a personal trainer who swore off steroids eight years ago after the birth of his daughter, Sydney, has competed twice on the TV show and hopes to do so again next year. Meanwhile, he trains about 120 others, including several with similar aspirations.

The Buffalo Ninja Warrior competition starts at 11 a.m. Sunday and is expected to last till about 6 p.m. at Hybrid Fitness; pay $5 at the door to watch the action.

Read more here at the Hybrid Fitness Facebook page.


Twitter: @BNrefresh

Sled hockey star to give free talk on Saturday

An award winning Paralympian from Lancaster will be the featured speaker Saturday in the latest Person First Forum at the Museum of disABILITY History.

Adam Page will give a sled hockey talk, entitled “Living an Independent Life, Making Dreams a Reality,” from 1 to 3 p.m. at the museum, 3826 Main St.

Page will talk about his life, introduction to sled hockey and road to Paralympic success.

Born on March 10, 1992, with Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus, Page found sled hockey at the age of 6, and has been playing for 16 years. At 14, he was chosen for the USA Development Team and, a year later, joined the USA men’s national team. Page has participated in the 2010 and 2014 Paralympics in Vancouver, B.C. and Sochi, Russia, respectively. Additionally, he has taken part in four world championships, winning two gold medals, including silver and a bronze.

He currently volunteers with his father, Norman, starting new sled hockey programs across the country.

In his spare time, Page enjoys downhill skiing, golf and bowling. He is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in sports management. His childhood hockey sled, crafted by his father, is on display at the museum as part of its Sports and disABILITY exhibit.

Page’s talk is free, though regular admission applies to those who wish to tour the museum. For more information or to register for the event, call 629-3626.

Treasure Walk Challenge Saturday at Delaware, Como parks

Catholic Medical Partners will kick off its Summer Treasure Walk Challenge on Saturday, when members of the Catholic Health System-affiliated nutrition team will lead a 2-mile walk and treasure hunt in two local parks.

Similar events will take place later this summer.

Participants of all ages not only will be encouraged to walk, but also will receive clues at the start of each walk to help guide them on a treasure hunt.

“We’re trying to get people thinking physical activity does not need to be torture – it can be fun,” said  said Candi Possinger, a registered dietitian and manager of nutrition services with Catholic Medical Partners.

The scheduled walks – all of which start at 10 a.m. – are as follows:

Today: Delaware Park. Meet near basketball courts at the Jewett Parkway entrance. Also Como Park. Meet near the flagpole at the Como Park Boulevard entrance.

Aug. 16: Niagara Falls State Park. Meet in front of Visitor’s Center.

Sept. 20: Chestnut Ridge Park. Meet at flagpole near casino.

The walks are free and there is no need to preregister. Those who participate will be given envelopes to complete healthy eating and fitness exercises, and those who finish the tasks and walk will be entered into raffles to win prizes.

“It’s just some different activities to get people to realize there are different ways to move your body, have fun and be interactive,” Possinger said.

– Scott Scanlon

Kick-A-Thon this weekend is about breaking boards - and more

The fourth Annual Kick-A-Thon to benefit The ALS Association will take place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday in the St. Leo Catholic Church gymnasium, 903 Sweet Home Road, Amherst.

Pride Martial Arts will host the event and its students may participate free; registration is $30 for others.

Kickers will complete 50,000 kicks or more. Then, on Aug. 2, they will participate in the ALS Association’s “Walk to Defeat ALS” in Delaware Park. 

Often referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a progressive, fatal neuromuscular disease that slowly robs the body of its ability to walk, speak, swallow, and breathe. The life expectancy of an ALS patient averages two to five years from the time of diagnosis.

There is no known cause of the disease; it costs loved ones an average of $200,000 a year to provide the care ALS patients need.

Todd Patterson, owner and head instructor at Pride Martial Arts Academy in Williamsville, has supported the ALS Association and the “Walk to Defeat ALS” for the past five years after losing his mother, Emma J. Patterson, to a two-year battle with the disease.

“After providing 24-hour care for my own mother, I learned how much support my family and I needed,” Patterson said. “Thanks to the ALS Association and their local services, my mother and family were able to receive countless hours of personal and financial support.”

Sign up for the kickathon by calling 565-0202 for a registration form or register at 9:30 a.m Saturday. For more info, visit

Those who would like to come and watch the kicking and board breaking may do so for free.  

« Older Entries

About The Refresh Buffalo Blog

Scott Scanlon

Scott Scanlon

Scott Scanlon is an award-winning reporter and editor who has covered various topics in his quarter-century as a journalist in South Florida, Syracuse and Buffalo. He is aiming to pass along what he is learning these days about health, fitness, nutrition and family life.

@BNRefresh |