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BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Canisius College is transforming a room on campus, in honor of a former student who made a big difference helping others. The room will be home to an expanded mentorship program, which Steven Leonard started while he was at the school. 

“You couldn’t not feel uplifted around him,” his friend, Giovanni Mion said. “He was always doing a lot of self-improvement, and he liked to talk about that, and liked to bring you on that journey and see if he could help you too.”

Leonard was an uplifting spirit wherever he went. In college, he played lacrosse at Canisius and brought that positive attitude to the team, but he also helped those struggling in the classroom. While in college, he helped create a mentorship program, after growing a great bond with his advisor. 

“Steve always wants to give back, he’s always wanting to be the person to help other people,” Mion said. “So he’s like, ‘in my spare time, can I start helping other students?’ And he did. And the mentor program that’s at Canisius … that’s where that took off.”

After graduating, he became a project manager, but continued to help young people. 

“He went and tutored three different kids in the Buffalo Public School system on his own voluntary time,” Mion said. “He never talked about it on social media, he never talked about it in our social groups. He just did it because he wanted to help other people grow.”

When he passed away of an aggressive form of cancer, his family, friends and alma mater knew they had to come up with something to continue his legacy of giving back. That’s when they thought to transform a room on campus, which is currently a study space. It will soon be transformed into the ‘Scuba Zone.

“He got the nickname on the lacrosse team of ‘Scuba Steve,’ from the movie Big Daddy.”

The Scuba Zone is designed to help mentor 500+ students every year. It will be an expansion of the program he helped create while he was at the school. It will help students with academics, but also much more. 

“Adjusting to campus… or relationship issues,” Mion said. 

Mion said he couldn’t think of a better way to honor his friend, who lived his life giving back to others. 

In order to open the Scuba Zone, Mion and Steven’s family are looking for more money. Mion has pledged to do one burpee for every dollar he receives, and is looking to raise $10,000. To donate, click here. 

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