Though not in Buffalo, Bills Backers represent the Buffalo Bills all over the country and throughout the world. These fans not only support the team each Sunday, but benefit both Buffalo and their local communities through fundraising efforts during the season and all year round. Of the reported clubs, Bills Backers nationwide raised over $15,000 for charity in 2013, and that's not counting many more. Through their efforts, the Bills become more than just a football team backed by thousands of people throughout the country, but a network of caring fans, connected through their Bills and their philanthropy.
"I was shocked when we blew the doors off with the numbers this year. We make it easy and fun for people to give" said Tom Mills, President of Portland United Bills Supporters. His chapter raised $2,400 for charities in both Portland and Buffalo. They've donated over $7,000 since 1999 and are raising more and more each year.
Using 50/50 raffles, gift baskets, t-shirts, and tailgate parties, Backers use creative ways to raise support and funds (while watching Bills games and having fun, of course).
Bills Backers donations in 2013 included, but were certainly not limited to:
Colorado Bills Backers - $700 St. Jude's Hospital
Bills Backers of Charlotte - $300 Hunter's Hope
Bills Backers of Virginia - $300 Hunter's Hope
Bills Backers of North Port Florida - $800, $750 The Boys and Girls Club of Sarasota, $750 Sarasota County Special Olympics, $750 Camp Good Days of WNY, 13 bicycles and two large boxes of toys to Toys for Tots
Portland United Bills Supporters - $500 Toy-N-Joy Makers of Portland, $400 Make-A-Wish Foundation of Oregon, $500 Boys & Girls Clubs of Portland, $500 Boys & Girls Clubs of Buffalo, $500 Sweet Sally Sunshine
Albany Bills Backers – Sweet Sally Sunshine
Downtown Philadelphia Backers - $1,010 Sweet Sally Sunshine
New York City Bills Backers - $7,000 Sweet Sally Sunshine
The New York City Bills Backers maintain one of the most successful chapters each year. Presidents Matt Soreco and Matt Kabel have turned McFadden's and Calico Jack's into true Buffalo bars on gamedays as well as during special events throughout the year. Kabel's daughter Sally was diagnosed with Leukemia at 10 months old and has been going through treatment for the past two years. Sweet Sally Sunshine was a blog that was started in order to share updates about Sally's battle with Cancer. Through donations from the Bills Backers chapter in New York City and chapters across the country, over $8,000 was raised for Sally's cause. Fans can also donate through the blog and 100% of money contributed will go towards covering needs for Sally's treatment.
"I'm sure I can speak for Matt Kabel when I say that the outpouring of support from Bills Nation has been incredible," said Soreco. "How quickly everyone mobilized in order to help showed that there is a bond beyond just football. The support came from fans all over the country, not just from our group in New York City. Rooting for the same team brought us together, and times like this show how tight that bond really is."