Buffalo Bills Community Relations 2016 season recap

Posted Jan 16, 2017

Throughout 2016, the Buffalo Bills teamed up with a variety of partners to make a lasting impact in the Western New York community.

During the 2016 offseason, training camp and regular season the Buffalo Bills worked in conjunction with several partners to make a difference in the lives of those in Western New York. With a focus on Fitness, Health & Safety, Military Appreciation and Community Support, the Bills organization has taken pride in giving back. Here’s a full breakdown of each unforgettable moment from 2016.

Alex Breddy visits One Bills Drive

Prior to Buffalo’s Week 3 win over the Arizona Cardinals, the Bills hosted Alex Breddy, a local 15-year-old and his family for a special day at One Bills Drive. Breddy, a big Bills fan, suffered a spinal arterial stroke which left him paralyzed from the neck down last February. Despite being faced with adversity, Breddy and his family continue to move forward with a positive outlook. Breddy’s special visit included a tour around the facility, where he met several players, attended a practice and received a locker of his very own. Touching the lives of everyone that he met, Breddy proved a true inspiration for the Bills.

Bills & ADPRO Sports High School Coach of the Week

The Buffalo Bills once again partnered with ADPRO Sports in 2016 to honor some of the best high school football coaches in the Buffalo and Rochester regions. Throughout the season, the High School Coach of the Week program recognized 22 individuals for their outstanding work both on and off the field. Additionally, Mike Sarratori head coach of the Dunkirk Marauders was selected as the Bills & ADPRO Sports High School Coach of the Year for the Buffalo region and Rob Cerone of Greece Athena and Geoff Mandile of Victor were selected for the Rochester Region. All award winners were celebrated on-field on Dec. 18 prior to the Bills vs. Browns game.

Buffalo Bills Military Recognition presented by BENRUS

At each home game during the 2016 season, the Buffalo Bills partnered with BENRUS to honor a military member during the game’s third quarter break. Each honoree was celebrated on the field for their achievements and contributions. Standing before family, friends and thousands of supportive fans, the military members shared an unforgettable experience.

Billieve Weekend presented by ECMC

In recognition of the NFL’s “A Crucial Catch” campaign, the Buffalo Bills in partnership with ECMC organized an once-in-a-lifetime experience for a group of breast cancer survivors. From brunch in the Bills writing press box to a pink-laden surprise in the game day locker room, the women were overjoyed to spend a day at One Bills Drive. Walking into the locker room, the group discovered that it had undergone a complete makeover in their honor. The beautiful day ended with a VIP viewing at practice, where the entire Bills team lined up to sign footballs for the women. Although the day was over, the Bills had more in store for the survivors. On Sunday, Oct. 16 prior to Buffalo’s Week 6 win over San Francisco, the women—dressed proudly in pink jerseys—lined Stampede Row to welcome the team to the field.

Fitness for Kids Challenge/Play 60 Challenge

To kick off the 2016 Fitness for Kids Challenge and Play 60 Challenge for Western New York students in grades two through five, the Buffalo Bills, Independent Health Foundation and Buffalo Niagara American Heart Association hosted a pep rally and Play 60 gym class at Discovery School in South Buffalo. The students were ecstatic as 18 Bills players joined in on the fun-filled afternoon to share healthy tips with the youngsters and to lead them through several different fitness activities.

Later in the season, the Bills, Independent Health Foundation and Buffalo Niagara American Heart Association came together once again to host the annual Play 60 Challenge Fitness Party in the ADPRO Sports Training Center for over 300 local children. The event celebrated the children who took part in the Play 60 Challenge and Fitness for Kids Challenge throughout the fall. The group enjoyed a dance party and a series of fun rotations that were led by Bills players and volunteers.

Additionally, during Buffalo’s Week 3 matchup against Arizona, the Bills welcomed youngsters from the highest participating Fitness for Kids Challenge and Play 60 Challenge schools to Stampede Row for an exclusive on-field experience.

Holiday Outreach

Throughout the holiday season, the Buffalo Bills players came together to get out, give back and make an impact in the community. From shopping sprees and clothing drives to adopting local families, the Bills spread holiday cheer. Defensive end Leger Douzable, the Bills D-line and linebackers worked with the United Way of Buffalo & Erie County to organize dinner and a shopping spree for 41 youngsters. Quarterback Tyrod Taylor also got into the spirit by adopting three families for Christmas through the United Way of Buffalo & Erie County. Other Bills players including C Eric Wood, S Sergio Brown, DT Marcell Dareus, G John Miller, T Jordan Mills and K Dan Carpenter did their part to make the holidays special.

Make-A-Wish Visit- Timothy

The Bills worked with Make-A-Wish Foundation to give Timothy an unforgettable Christmas Eve at New Era Field. In addition to coming to the Bills vs. Dolphins game, Timothy received a personalized video from Bills players such as LS Garrison Sanborn, P Colton Schmidt, RB LeSean McCoy, S Jonathan Meeks, QB Tyrod Taylor, G Richie Incognito, WR Marquise Goodwin and TE Charles Clay to show their support.

My Cause, My Cleats

This year through the NFL’s “My Cause, My Cleats” initiative, players around the league were given a unique platform to showcase a cause that is near and dear to them by customizing their cleats. Many Bills players including, QB Tyrod Taylor, LS Garrison Sanborn, DE Leger Douzable, RB LeSean McCoy, WR Marquise Goodwin, G Richie Incognito and LB Lorenzo Alexander took part in the campaign. With the hope of sharing their stories and generating awareness for their causes, each player proudly displayed their custom cleats while the Bills took on the Raiders.

In a continued effort to support their causes, a number of Buffalo’s participants autographed their game-worn cleats and have made them available for bid on NFL Auction. Of the proceeds generated, 100 percent will go to the each player’s cause.

Play Football Month Celebration

The month of August in the NFL is a time for teams around the league to celebrate Play Football Month. The Bills participated in the campaign by teaming up with USA Football and DENT Nuerologic to hold the third annual Moms Football Safety Clinic during Training Camp, presented by Connors & Ferris. Fifty local youth football moms attended the event where they learned the various components associated with USA Football’s Heads Up Football initiative.

The Buffalo Bills Toyota Rookie Club hosted a youth football clinic at New Era Field in partnership with USA Football and the Western New York Amateur Football Alliance – the Bills main youth football community partner. The clinic brought in over 150 youngsters, based on their league’s level of participation in USA Football’s Heads Up Football program, to learn safety techniques, go through various stations and spend time with the Bills rookies.

The Bills also held a USA Football Protection Tour at New Era Field, as well as youth football teams at Training Camp and at two preseason games (just under 5,000 tickets were donated to local Heads Up Football Leagues). At the Bills vs. Colts game the Falconer Junior Falcons lined Stampede Row to welcome the Bills to the field,  the Medina Broncos joined the field during the national anthem and at halftime the Beast Elite Ducks scrimmaged the Western New York Lions. Additionally, at the Bills vs. Giants game, Buffalo welcomed the Pittsford Panthers to Stampede Row, hosted the Town of Tonawanda Football Association Freshman Teams during the national anthem and held a scrimmage between the Pioneer Wildcats and Kane Tornadoes at halftime.

Punt, Pass & Kick Weekend

The NFL Punt, Pass & Kick program gives young athletes aged 6-15 an opportunity to compete at the sectional, regional and national level. On Saturday, Dec. 10 during Week 14, the Buffalo Bills held the competition’s team championships in the ADPRO Sports Training Center. Boys and girls split between five different age divisions competed for a chance to be crowned team champion and to qualify for the National Championships held at the 2017 Pro Bowl in Orlando.  The participants were treated to a meet and greet with Bills LB Shaq Lawson, a pizza party in the team cafeteria and a gift bag full of Bills merchandise. The fun-filled weekend continued for the participants, as they were recognized on-field at the Bills vs. Steelers game and led the team onto the field in Stampede Row.

Salute to Service game day

This year in support of the NFL’s Salute to Service campaign, the Buffalo Bills honored each of the military’s six branches in a big way. The initiative, which the Bills celebrated during the team’s Week 12 game against Jacksonville, recognizes military members for their service. In a pregame ceremony for the ages, the Bills paid tribute to former Bills lineman Bob Kalsu who was killed in action while serving our country in Vietnam, displayed a full-field American flag and welcomed military members to join Bills players during introductions. The cause is one that many Bills players are passionate about, including G Richie Incognito who was Buffalo’s nominee for the NFL Salute to Service Award.

Staff Volunteer Day

For the organization’s annual Staff Volunteer Day, the Buffalo Bills linked up with Habitat for Humanity of Buffalo, in conjunction with the Bailey Green Mixed-Use Development Project, to provide assistance on the construction of three homes on Wende Street in Buffalo. The group of volunteers consisted of over 100 front office staff and coaches who donated their time to help out the local community.

Thanksgiving Blitz

The Buffalo Bills worked with the Food Bank of Western New York and the Bills Women’s Association to put on the annual Thanksgiving Blitz. Monetary donations of over $54,000 provided by Bills players and coaches made it possible to distribute meals to over 1,000 local families. Spreading holiday cheer and kindness, the Bills made memories that will last a lifetime.

Toyota Rookie Club Holiday Party for Children

To get into the holiday spirit, the Buffalo Bills Toyota Rookie Club hosted over 100 local children for a winter-wonderland themed holiday party in the Toyota Van Miller Club at New Era Field. The special evening brought children together from 13 local organizations where they were able to spend quality time with some of their favorite Bills players. The unforgettable event featured festive lights, music, movies, Santa Claus and real life reindeer. Prior to the event, the Buffalo Bills Women’s Association came together to shop and wrap gifts found on each child’s wish list. The children were overcome with joy when Bills players presented them with their presents.

Training Camp presented by Connors & Ferris

During Buffalo’s 2016 Training Camp at St. John Fisher College, presented by Connors & Ferris, the Bills hosted several guests at their Community Relations tent. Visitors from Camp Good Days, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Rochester, Boys and Girls Club, Carly’s Club, Gateway Longview/Salvation Army, Military Veterans, Stones Buddies, the United Way/ Rochester Police: Do the Right Thing, WNY Amateur Football Alliance, Special Olympics, Town of Pittsford, American Cancer Society, Buffalo Football and Cazenovia Football, enjoyed their time watching practice and interacting with the Bills players.

The Bills also hosted a special guest, Mary Rose Carrero. A long-time Bills fan, Carrero came to camp to fulfill one of her life’s wishes—to meet the Buffalo Bills. While at camp, Carrero, who turned 100 years old just prior to her visit, received an exclusive experience. From a personalized jersey with her name on it, to a shopping spree at The Bills Store, Carreo couldn’t have been happier. Given the opportunity to meet some of her favorite players, Carreo expressed her gratitude and shared tips on how to live a long and happy life.

United Way Character Education Program

The Buffalo Bills and the United Way of Buffalo and Erie County came together to kick off the Character Playbook initiative in May 2016. The digital educational program aims to provide middle school children with knowledge on character development and conflict resolution in order to promote positive decision making and healthy relationships. Held at One Bills Drive in the ADPRO Sports Training Center team meeting room, the event featured representatives from the United Way and the Buffalo Bills as well as 80 children from Hamburg Middle School and Buffalo School No. 33.

The group heard from a panel of speakers which included QB Tyrod Taylor, Director of Alumni Relations Marlon Kerner, Quality Control-Special Teams Coach Kathryn Smith, and Assistant Director of Player Engagement/Team Chaplin James Trapp and enjoyed a Q&A session.

Walter Payton Man of the Year Award

For the second consecutive year, Bills center Eric Wood was named as Buffalo’s Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee. Wood is perfect example of what it means to be a leader both on and off the field. A respected voice in the locker room, Wood also takes great pride in giving back to the Greater Buffalo and Louisville, Ky. communities. Through the Eric Wood Foundation, Wood has dedicated himself to making an impact on the lives of children suffering from illness and their families. In 2016, one of the foundation’s many works included a night out for 40 pediatric cancer patients. The annual Operation Big Santa event kicked off at Ilio DiPaolo’s for dinner and ended with a shopping spree at Dick’s Sporting Goods.