July 2003

Brian Rusk
Sharing His Own Good Fortune
to Make the World a Better Place


by Erin COLLINS

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Brian Rusk loves to help people, especially children. His favorite way to do this is through an organization called Hope for Tomorrow. The group donates surgeries and medical supplies to children in third world countries.

Founded by Dr. Jeffrey Meilman, a board certified plastic surgeon, it began with a meeting between Rusk, Meilman, Richard Solecki, Earl Waxman of the Harbor Health Care Foundation and Pope John Paul II at the Vatican twelve years ago.

“The Pope asked our group to help children in need throughout the world,” said Rusk. “So, Dr. Meilman created the Hope for Tomorrow foundation.”

The group has traveled to countries including India, Tanzania, Jamaica, Poland, Hungary and Albania. This year, the group will travel to Nepal.

Dr. Meilman brings some of the children he’s helped to meet the Pope, who personally blesses them. The group also brings children back to the United States to perform extensive surgeries that cannot be performed in their countries.

“The mission is to help needy children who otherwise would be without plastic surgery,” said Rusk.

Over a hundred children have benefited from Dr. Meilman’s donated surgeries in the past twelve years and approximately twenty have been brought to the United States for surgery, according to Rusk.

“My wife Maureen and I are blessed to have healthy and happy children. It makes me feel very good that we can hopefully provide the same opportunities for good health to these other children,” said Rusk. “I only wish we could help more.”

When he’s not helping children, Rusk is very involved in the Polish community. He serves as president of the General Pulaski Association and he heads the Pulaski Day parade, which hosts more than 150,000 people every year, twice as many as at a Bills game. He also serves as the national vice president of public relations for the Polish American Congress.

The Pulaski Day parade, which takes place every summer—this year July 20th at 1:30 pm—is the largest Polish-American event is upstate New York, according to Rusk. The route begins on Walden Avenue at the Thruway Plaza, heads west to Harlem road and ends at Cheektowaga Town Park.    

Famous leaders like President John. F. Kennedy, Governor George E. Pataki and Vice President Nelson Rockefeller have marched in the parade, which celebrates the life and legacy of General Casimir Pulaski, a Revolutionary War hero.

“He fought for freedom in both Europe and the United States and died at the tender age of 32,” said Rusk. “We keep his legacy alive to let everybody know that there is a large price to pay for freedom.”

Rusk hosts his own radio show, the Rusk Report. He’s interviewed such famous guests as Sam Donaldson, Marie Osmond, Congressman Tom Reynolds and Governor George Pataki, who has appeared five times. The show, in its 24th year, airs Saturdays at 8:30 a.m. on WKBW- AM 1520.

“It’s a wonderful learning experience for me to enjoy local, national and international leaders on the program.”

Rusk is also a member of the board of directors of Kenmore Mercy Hospital; he’s a New York Republican State Committeeman; he serves on the executive committees of the Erie County Republican party, the Town of Amherst Republican party, the MDA and is also president of the Amherst South Rotary Club .

Rusk also serves as an assistant public information officer for the New York State Thruway Authority and New York State Canal Corporation. He assists in publicizing events west of Syracuse to the Pennsylvania state line.
From a boy who grew up on Morgan Parkway in Williamsville to a man who has become an outstanding leader in his community, Brian Rusk has committed himself to helping less fortunate children all over the world as well as making his own part of the world a better place.

Rusk credits his parents for shaping him into the person he is today. His father was a medical doctor and his mother was a real estate broker with Hunt Real Estate Corporation.

“Growing up I learned a lot from my parents about honesty and hard work and giving back to one’s community, and also, a pride in our Polish-American culture.”

Rusk went to Williamsville public schools and graduated cum laude at age 19 from the State University of New York at Buffalo with a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science and theater.

Rusk and his wife Maureen have been married for 13 years. She is the assistant dean of the business school at Canisius College. They have two children, Justine, age 12, and Michael, age 8. The family enjoys annual trips to Palm Beach, Fl. where they play golf and tennis, go swimming and ride bicycles. Rusk also enjoys taking his children skiing.

“I’m blessed with a wonderful wife, beautiful children and good health. I just hope to make the rest of the world as blessed as I and my family have been,” he said.



Erin Collins is a Staff Associate with Living Prime Time.

 

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