The holiday spirit was in the air as Bills players, Stones Buddies and young chronically ill children from Women's and Children's Hospital of Buffalo decorated gingerbread houses and participated in the annual tree lighting ceremony on November 22, 2010.
Bills fullback Corey McIntyre, tight end Shawn Nelson and linebacker Akin Ayodele were appreciative of the opportunity to spend time with the kids.
"I'm so thankful this holiday season and spending time with the Stones Buddies kids was truly a joy," said McIntyre. "Me knocking down 300 pound lineman is nothing compared to the battles these kids face every day. These children are amazing and courageous, and to help them focus on something as fun as these holiday activities is something I am proud and thankful to be able to do."
"The kids look at you as a hero because we play football every Sunday, but between the hospital visits and the toll that illness takes on kids and their families… the kids are the true heroes," said Nelson. "To come out and show support and let kids know that we are in their corner, it's what it's all about."
At the annual tree lighting ceremony, the Clarence High School Choir sang carols as everyone watched the tree light up. Pepsi sponsored the event and donated drinks for everyone and had plenty of volunteers to help with decorating, while Tops Friendly Markets supplied the gingerbread houses.
"This was a chance to see the other side of the holidays and be with children that aren't as fortunate as we are with our health," said Ayodele. "It warms your heart, and it was fun to sit down and be imaginative for a little while and be a kid once again. I haven't made a gingerbread house since I was a kid."
Stone's Buddies is a support group for chronically ill children and their families.
Women & Children's Hospital of Buffalo, a Kaleida Health facility and teaching hospital for the University at Buffalo School of Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, is the regional center for specialized pediatric, perinatal and obstetrical services in Western New York and beyond.