The joy and excitement of the holiday season was nearly overwhelming for a group of 100 special children at the Bills annual children's holiday party last night.
Buffalo Bills running back Fred Jackson led his teammates in the Bills Toyota Rookie Club including C.J. Spiller, Arthur Moats, Torell Troup, Alex Carrington, Danny Batten, Levi Brown, Mike Caussin, Antonio Coleman, Marcus Easley, Dominique Harris, Jammie Kirlew, Ko Quaye, Cordero Howard, David Nelson, Naaman Roosevelt, Mike Balogun and Ed Wang and sang carols, handed out presents and mingled with the kids and their families at the Jim Kelly Club at Ralph Wilson Stadium.
Linebacker Arthur Moats led the players by playing the keyboard as they sang their rendition of Silent Night and Jingle Bells with the children.
Safety George Wilson also showed up to tape a special holiday segment for the Bills All Access television show and asked Moats for his thoughts about the kids and the singing.
"I just want to put a smile on the kid's faces and show them that I'm having fun as well," said Moats, who also later danced with the kids. "The Temptations version of Silent Night is my favorite rendition of the song."
The Jim Kelly Club looked like the North Pole and was decorated like a winter-wonderland filled with train rides, holiday food stations, pine trees, ornaments, holiday music, presents, reindeer and, of course, Santa Claus.
The children were from various agencies including the Boys & Girls Club of Buffalo, Make-A-Wish, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Erie County, Stones Buddies – Women's & Children's Hospital of Buffalo, Aspire, Northwest Buffalo Community Center, United Way of Buffalo & Erie County, Gateway-Longview, Salvation Army and the Buffalo Public Schools.
The annual holiday party gave children from the various agencies an opportunity to celebrate the holidays with the Bills players, Jills cheerleaders, Billy Buffalo and Santa Claus. The kids each received a gift from a wish list they previously submitted along with a holiday dinner and treats.
"To see all the kids get excited about their gifts was pretty cool," said rookie quarterback Levi Brown. "Even a few kids got bikes, and to see their faces was unreal. For some of the kids here tonight this may be their only Christmas, and I'm happy that the Bills got to give them a small piece of the holiday spirit."
The players helped distribute the gifts to the children during the fun-filled evening and all the children were extremely excited. Some of the kids were surprised and shocked to receive their most wished for gift – and to have the Bills players hand it to them was that much more special.
A few of the kids were bubbling with so much joy that they were at a loss for words, some showed tears - but of joy, and some actually saved their present to take home with them to open on Christmas. Being there in person made those in attendance, especially the players, feel special too.
"Tonight was the best event I've been a part of all year," said nose tackle Torell Troup. "One hundred kids left here with ear to ear smiles on their faces and I got to be a part of it, and I'm so grateful. From the singing, to the handing out of presents, everything was unbelievable and I'm so fortunate that I was here."