Riverside Park in Buffalo is the beneficiary of a $50,000 Grassroots Grant from the National Football League and Buffalo Bills. Offensive lineman Brad Butler, wide receiver Lee Evans and linebacker Jon Corto joined the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy and the Buffalo Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) at Riverside Park on May 20, 2009 for the announcement.
The $50,000 grant is part of $2.5 million in field refurbishment awards allocated nationally this year, and will provide much needed bleachers and benches made from recycled materials, and an updated irrigation system.
"The athletic leagues that use the field are enthusiastic supporters of the park and neighborhood," said Michael K. Clarke, Buffalo LISC executive director. "Many children will benefit for years to come from this strategic investment from the Buffalo Bills and NFL's Grassroots initiative."
"Riverside Park is a center of activity for many young people playing football, swimming, even ice skating," said Thomas Herrera-Mishler, Olmsted Parks Conservancy president and CEO. "All of these programs provide thousands of neighborhood children with safe and healthy activities, one of the things that make our Olmsted Parks and the community so great."
Many of the Black-Rock-Riverside Little League football players and cheerleaders were in attendance on the field for the announcement along with the Jills Cheerleaders and Billy Buffalo.
Evans, Butler and Corto spoke about their individual experiences and the importance of parks and playgrounds, and happily signed autographs and took pictures until all the kids were taken care of.
"At LISC, we are focused on helping distressed communities become good places to live, work, do business and raise families," said Michael Rubinger, LISC president and CEO. "Developing sound recreational opportunities is a key piece of our work. The NFL has been a committed partner in helping make that happen."
The NFL Grassroots Program, a partnership between the NFL Youth Football Fund and LISC, the nation's leading community development support corporation, has resulted in the construction or renovation of 170 football fields nationwide in the past decade. In the last 11 years, the NFL Youth Football Fund has granted over $25 million to revitalize playing fields in underserved neighborhoods. Fields are newly built or significantly renovated, with improvements such as irrigation systems, lights, bleachers, scoreboards, goal posts and turf. Grassroots grants are issued once established funding thresholds are reached for each project.
Founded in 1959, the Buffalo Bills are one of the most storied franchises in the National Football League (NFL). The Bills have won two American Football League (AFL) Championships (1964 - 1965) and won an NFL record four straight AFC Championships (1990 - 1993) that included four trips to the Super Bowl. The Bills pride themselves on supporting the Western New York community by establishing player outreach programs, supporting NFL educational and physical fitness youth initiatives and increasing community awareness. Under the guidance of newly elected Hall of Fame member and team founder, Ralph C. Wilson, Jr., the Bills will celebrate their 50th Season in 2009. For more Bills community relations information, please visit [buffalobills.com](http://www.buffalobills.com/ "http://www.buffalobills.com/ blocked::http://www.buffalobills.com/") or call (716) 648-1800.**