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BY: Kimberly Snickles, Cheektowaga Source | May 14, 2013

“When you hear the news you just feel like, I don’t know,” said Fortune Macri, father of Brayden Macri. “It’s like an outer body experience. It’s the worst news you can ever get.”

Macri received the devastating news July 24, 2012 that his 3-year-old son Brayden was diagnosed with leukemia. Although this is an awful situation, Macri believes these hard times have made his family stronger than ever.

Being the youngest of the bunch, Brayden’s older brother and sister make sure to look after him at all times. They share their toys and play carefully so that he is always out of harms reach.

Unlike other children, Brayden is not able to play outside as much as he would like. He has been in and out of hospitals and received extensive treatments including blood transfusions, chemotherapy and bone marrow aspirations.

Yet, with all the pain this little boy has had to go through, he still remains a true champion.

“Let me tell you, this guy is such a tough kid,” said Macri. “I was feeling sick the other day and I really didn’t want to get out of bed. Brayden brought in his fake tools and said, “Where does it hurt dad, I’ll fix it. Keep in mind he was in the hospital the day before. He’s just changed all of our lives. He saved my life, that’s for sure.”

Macri has traveled all over the United States to accomplish his dream of becoming a chef. He has worked under American celebrity chefs such as Bobby Flay and Charlie Palmer in New York City, where he mastered the skills needed to run his own kitchen.

As much as he loved the city life, he knew environments like New York and Las Vegas were no place to raise his three children, so he moved back to his wife’s hometown in Buffalo.

Even though he had many years of experience in cooking under his belt, Macri found it hard to find a job in his new location. He was working for a small pizza place and trying to make ends meet while expensive doctors bills and hospital visits for Brayden were adding up.

The determined father knew he couldn’t lose hope, so he continued looking for better opportunities. One day he came across an advertisement for a chef at an up and coming upscale restaurant called The Lodge in Buffalo. He quickly sent in his resume and after a few interviews, he was offered the job.

“They have been so good to me,” said Macri. “I’m just so thankful I found these guys.”

Macri and his wife, Kristen will be hosting a benefit 2 p.m. Saturday, May 18, 2121 Grand Island Blvd., Grand Island. Those who attend are asked to give a $20 donation. The event will include a balloon artist, carnival games, bounce houses, 50/50 raffles, music, food, beer, and drinks.

If you are unable to attend the event and would still like to help, monetary gifts can be made in care of Brayden Macri at any local Citizens Bank.

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