Hunter James Kelly Research Institute Opens

March 9, 2012 Updated Mar 9, 2012 at 12:40 AM EDT

By WKBW News

March 9, 2012 Updated Mar 9, 2012 at 12:40 AM EDT

Buffalo (WKBW) The newest building on the University at Buffalo's Downtown Medical Campus is much more than a building. And the statue of a little boy that the building is named after is much moRe than a statue.

Jim and Jill Kelly, along with family, friends, doctors, and supporters officially opened the doors to the Hunter James Kelly Research Institute Thursday night.

"Every time you come here, knowing this little boy never spoke a word, but he's going to change the lives of so many kids, that's what it's all about," Bills Hall of Fame Quarterback Jim Kelly said.

The state-of-the-art facility is named for the son of Bills great Jim Kelly. Hunter suffered from Krabbe Leukodystrophy, a degenerative nerve disorder. He died in 2005 at the age of eight.

"It's bigger than us. It's about children's lives being changed forever. Children we'll never ever meet. That maybe our daughters will never meet. But that we're having an impact that goes beyond time," Jill Kelly said.

The Institute already has a team of doctors in place, to research and study diseases like Hunter's, with the hope of one day finding a cure.

"We have resources and support from Hunter's Hope Foundation, from the University at Buffalo, and from New York State. And it really increases the probability that we can arrive at something useful with the disease," Institute Director Dr. Larry Wrabetz said.

But for the Kellys, it is about more than a building or a statue, it's about the lives that will be made better because of Hunter.

"Through that little boy right there," Jim said with a smile, "he will forever live right here in Western New York. At the Hunter James Kelly Research Institute."