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Buffalo Tough Chains: Seeking a stronger connection

Sixteen chain links. One ultra-durable key ring. Seventeen counties. One message: stay connected.

Sixteen chain links. One ultra-durable key ring. Seventeen counties. One message: stay connected.

That’s the message that Bart Hughes and the rest of the Buffalo Tough Chains initiative is trying to share with Western New York in response to an opioid epidemic that has claimed numerous lives and affected countless families.

“We’re just trying to let people know, that even though life can be tough in Buffalo, the key is to stay connected,” Hughes shared. “That’s why the last piece of the keychain is the ring. That one symbolizes that the key is to stay connected and that you have the key for your success.”

Hughes, whose older brother and original Tough Chain creator, Michael Jay Pawelek Jr., lost his life in June of this year to an overdose, has worked to continue producing the chains. Within the past month, Buffalo Tough Chains has even formed a partnership with Kids Escaping Drugs.

According to Hughes, he contacted the nonprofit organization—which has a teen and adolescent treatment facility in WNY, as well as provides proactive community awareness and education—about working together and they let him know they had already seen the chains.

“As soon as I contacted them, they let me know they were looking for a new product to give their graduates. They thought it was meant to be that we created it at this perfect time that they needed it. As soon as I contacted them and let them know I wanted to donate something, they jumped right on it.”

In addition to donating Tough Chains to Kids Escaping Drugs to be given to their male graduates, Buffalo Tough Chains donates 50 percent of the profits to the organization.

Buffalo Tough Chains are available to purchase for $20 here. There’s also an option to add a Buffalo Tough Chain to your purchase, which is then sent directly to Kids Escaping Drugs campus and gifted to a graduate upon completion of treatment.

For Hughes, all he asks is that people continue to share the message and spread awareness in order to keep people connected. While the circumstances may have been tragic, the resolve in his actions and voice remains strong.

“We were working on it together and I’m really just trying to follow through on it. It sucks that I have to use what happened and this story to try and get it off the ground, but it definitely is something that I’m 100 percent motivated to get it done for him.”

For more information on Buffalo Tough Chains, visit them online at or stay connected to their Buffalo Tough Chains Facebook page.


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