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Bills Life: Zay Jones touches the hearts of local family

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1. Zay Jones touches the hearts of local family

For Kip, Hannah, Dylan, and Maggie Lonnen, day six of Bills Training Camp, presented by Connors and Ferris, was a truly special day. Back in April, the family lost their mother, and since one Bills player has gone above and beyond to offer his support. After learning about the situation, wide receiver Zay Jones made a kind and unforgettable gesture that went a long way during the family's tough time.

On Tuesday, July 24, the Lonnens received a package from Jones that consisted of a signed football, a pair of Jones' game cleats and a hand-written note from the wide receiver for Dylan. Not only did Jones send those gifts, he also extended an invitation for them to come out and meet him at camp. Being big Bills fans, this gesture meant a lot in their time of mourning.

When asked to describe what Jones' gesture meant to the family, Hannah Lonnen said, "We are huge Bills fans, so this is just amazing to us. We are on cloud nine."

The family grew up coming to camp, so it was a neat experience to be able to meet Jones one-on-one and watch practice from the sidelines. Jones himself could not have been more thankful for the opportunity to brighten the family's spirits and to finally get to meet them face-to-face.

"Credit to Hannah, I believe she organized this whole thing… It was just a great experience to really connect with the fans in a different way," explained Jones.

Photos from Wednesday, Aug. 1, at Princess & Superhero Day at Bills Training Camp, presented by Connors and Ferris. The theme day marked the second of six to take place at camp this summer!

2. Bills host princesses and superheroes

After Christmas came early on Sunday, July 29, for the first of six theme days at camp, the Bills welcomed princesses and superheroes through their gates on Aug. 1. Guests were given a complimentary Buffalo Bills superhero cape and were encouraged to check out the Bills Experience area, presented by Independent Health, with their families. The area featured various fun activities like mini golf, trivia games, air brush tattoos, and special appearances by Spider-Man and Elsa from Disney's "Frozen." Children of all ages had a blast showing off their costumes and wearing their Bills superhero capes around practice.

3. Bills super fan Jack Frost returns to St. John Fisher College

Staff on and off the field were eager to hear Bills super fan Jack Frost would be joining them for the fourth day of Bills Training Camp, presented by Connors and Ferris. Frost suffers from a rare blood disease, but that hasn't stopped him from bringing smiles to so many faces with the way he lives his life. Part of what lightened Frost's spirits while battling his disease was the Buffalo Bills. Over the years, Frost has quickly become a team favorite and a familiar face around training camp.

"This is great, these guys that come over, give us autographs and talk to him, they're tremendous," Jack's father explained. 

Frost had the opportunity to introduce himself to rookies and veterans alike, as quarterback Josh Allen and offensive tackle Jordan Mills stopped by to say hello. The experience had Frost showcasing his signature smile yet again and served as a moment he'll remember for a long time. 

Jack's father told the Bills, "It makes him feel good for a little while and forget about everything."

4. Special Olympics attends camp

For the third day of Bills Training Camp, presented by Connors and Ferris, the Bills welcomed the Special Olympics to the Community Relations tent. Special Olympics is an international organization that promotes understanding, acceptance, and inclusion between people with and without intellectual disabilities through physical activity. Some of the sports the Special Olympics hosts are basketball, golf, bowling, soccer, and field hockey, and many of their competitors were represented at the practice. The group was very excited to be surrounded by Bills players and were grateful for the chance to watch practice from the field. 

"It means a lot to me because I haven't been to a Buffalo Bills Training Camp since I was a little kid," explained Patrick Stanley, one of the athletes in attendance. 

Defensive end Eddie Yarbrough was particularly excited to have the group attend practice. Yarbrough and his sister started a Unified Sports program in Colorado that created a basketball league for people with special needs. His program started with just four teams and has now spread all over the state, much to his delight. 

"I thought it should be amongst all levels that they should get the same support, same clock management, same jerseys, same nostalgia that I get in my sport," explained Yarbrough. 

After mingling with the athletes from the Special Olympics, Yarbrough reflected on where he is at this point in his career and showed his appreciation for the group making an appearance at practice. 

"I remember being a kid and coming out and seeing how big these guys are, but to be able to put that same smile…on their faces just means so much," he said. 

5. Lawson celebrates Puerto Rican culture

Before heading off to camp, Bills defensive end Shaq Lawson made time for the 49th annual Grease Pole Festival in Buffalo. The annual event is a celebration of Puerto Rican culture that features carnival rides, music, dancing, live entertainment and, of course, food. Lawson posted a video to his Instagram account that captured some of the fun from the event. The video featured smiling fans and delicious looking food as Lawson proudly wore his Bills gear and took photos with fans. Lawson even touched upon the hurricane that devastated Puerto Rico last year and was thankful for the opportunity to learn more about their culture and bring smiles to their faces.

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