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'Phil’s mafia' fundraiser raises $5,000 in honor of late founder of Wellness Institute

'Phil's Mafia' honors the late Phil Haberstro and his contributions to health and wellness in WNY
Posted at 6:37 AM, Dec 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-23 08:58:23-05

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Phil Haberstro spent more than 30 years trying to make WNY a healthier place as founder of the Wellness Institute of Greater Buffalo. He passed away last month and to honor his work, his wellness warriors are raising money in his memory.

“He deserves it, Phil deserves it. It’s not about him, it’s about his mission. He’s done so much for our city and our region," said Lucy Connery, current Executive Director at The Wellness Institute of Greater Buffalo.

Haberstro founded the Wellness Institute in 1989.

Haberstro devoted his life to making WNY a healthier place
Haberstro devoted his life to making WNY a healthier place

“He’s been working, not only the last 30 years, but basically his whole life to improve community health.”

His impact can be seen as soon as you drive into the city. He helped to get Buffalo's designation as an "All America" city in the 90's.

Buffalo's An All America City sign
Buffalo's An All America City sign

“We’ve won All America region twice, which is unheard of...that's because of us and Phil," said Connery.

Phil passed the torch to Lucy Connery earlier this summer, stepping down to deal with health issues.

"Phil was a champion for community health and wellness, but unfortunately in March of 2020, he was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer," said Connery.

Haberstro lost his battle with cancer last month at 72 years old.

So Connery and The Wellness Institute started 'Phil's Mafia', a fundraiser to honor Haberstro. It's inspired by the donations given to Oishei Children's Hospital in honor of Buffalo Bills QB Josh Allen's late grandmother.

"Bills mafia does so much for our community and gets a lot of recognition for our community, we thought how beautiful would it be to rally the troops that support Phil," said Connery.

They’re asking for donations of $30 for his 30 years of service. So far, they’re up to $5,000 raised.

"The money goes towards keeping the wellness institute going, it goes to our walking events, also we do a lot with youth health and wellness," said Connery.

The 'Phil's mafia' fundraiser will keep the Wellness Institute running
The 'Phil's mafia' fundraiser will keep the Wellness Institute running

But Connery says it’s not really about the money, it’s about Haberstro and his legacy.

"We lost an amazing person, but he was on the right track, so let’s keep his mission going because he’s a legacy, he deserves it," said Connery.

The 'Phil’s Mafia' fundraiser will continue until the end of the year. But it won’t stop there—the plan is to bring it back for special occasions, like his birthday and other life milestones.

To donate, click here. For more information, click here.

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