1. Learning with Lawson
Bills defensive end Shaq Lawson is determined to lend a helping hand to youth in Western New York and his hometown South Central, South Carolina. Recently, Lawson took a group of high school students from Orchard Park, Lackawanna and a few Buffalo City Schools, on a tour of the Underground Railroad Heritage Center. While at the museum, Lawson and his guests immersed themselves in stories of bravery and selflessness as they learned about area abolitionists and Underground Railroad freedom seekers.
"We learn about the history of the Underground Railroad, but I didn't know it started up here," said Lawson. "My goal was to get 10 kids from local high schools around here and go see and learn about history. A lot of [the] kids didn't know about the history of the underground railroad…It was actually a great event for taking the kids."
Able to relate to the students, Lawson thinks that moments like this can have a lasting impact.
"It means a lot. Not only because they look up to [football] players in Buffalo, but just the fact that they are learning…they're taking it in, soaking it in and hopefully taking it back to school and learning about it," he said. "The whole event was great."
The outing was just one of several ways that the Bills fourth-year defender plans on giving back.
"…Whatever I do in Buffalo, I want to do back at home," said Lawson. "I think about it [and] I had the same folks looking out for me and trying to lead me the right way to be in the position I'm in now and I just want to guide the same kids before it's too late. [I want to] teach them some things…I have a lot of events coming up."
2. 'Zo and teammates hit the lanes for a good cause
It's no secret that veteran linebacker Lorenzo Alexander has fully embraced the Buffalo community in his time with the Bills. Through his ACES Foundation, Alexander has been able to support those who support him on the football field in a variety of ways. At one of his foundation's biggest events, the ACES Bowling Benefit, Alexander and his Bills teammates made a big splash for a great cause.
"It's my second annual bowling event here in Buffalo," Alexander explained. "Last year was a great success. The community came out and they did the same thing this year. I had over 200 people, several sponsors that really helped out and stepped up and then obviously my teammates came out – I probably had 25 guys there. [We were] just able to raise a lot of money for the partnership I have here with South Park [High School], as well as The Belle Center. So, it went really well."
The proceeds from the benefit will be funneled back into the area for youth.
"Between those two things, we have a community and STEM day coming up where we will provide health resources for the community, as well as STEM labs for the kids," he said. "A lot of the money will go towards providing that service and that will be on August 10 at The Belle Center."
3. Alexander the great role model and mentor
It's been a busy offseason for Lorenzo Alexander. Not only has he been doing his part on the field and off it through his ACES Foundation, he's also making time to speak to local students about a very critical topic – character. Through the NFL and United Way's Character Playbook initiative, powered by EVERFI, an all-digital program that focuses on teaching students how to build healthy relationships and empowers them to make the right decisions, over 350,000 students around the country are taking strides toward personal development.
A loving father, devoted husband, leader in the locker room and trusted friend, Alexander is an excellent example of what it means to have good character. Stopping by West Seneca East Middle School, he spoke with an auditorium full of sixth and eighth graders to share his story and discuss the importance of making smart choices.
4. "Horrible Harry" puts huge heart on display
He may go by "Horrible Harry," but Bills second-year defensive tackle Harrison Phillips has one of the biggest hearts around. Already an advocate for those in Western New York, Phillips can often be found spending his spare time helping give back. This offseason, he teamed up with The Playmakers organization to host a free football camp in the ADPRO Sports Training Center for children from Special Olympics New York, Bornhava, and Buffalo City Youth Football Organizations. There to support Phillips were teammates such as Wyatt Teller, Mitch Morse, Robert Foster, Mike Love, Matt Milano and Micah Hyde.
"So thankful for my first 100% free football camp a couple weeks ago," said Phillips on Instagram. "We had over 120 kids who live at risk or who have developmental differences participate in things like football drills, guest speakers, relay races, water balloon fights, demonstrations from police officers and their K-9 units, as well as firemen with their trucks…"
Given the success of the event, Phillips plans to host one in his native Omaha, Nebraska, this summer.