What Bills fans need to know about the Monday Night Football pregame ceremony

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Players and staff from the Buffalo Bills, Bandits, and Sabres handed out food to the community in partnership with World Central Kitchen and chef Darian Bryan on May 18, 2022. Photo by Ben Green

In the face of tragedy, Buffalo has come together to provide support and love throughout the community. Just before kickoff on Monday night, the Bills will hold a pregame ceremony to honor the 10 lives lost, those injured, and those who responded to the tragic mass shooting that occurred at the Tops Supermarket in Buffalo's East Side on May 14th.

Representatives of all 10 victims will be on the field during the remembrance ceremony. First responders from the Buffalo Police and Fire Departments, members of the FBI, District Attorney's office, and Erie County will be represented also.

Buffalo police officers Moe Badger and Michael Norwood will perform the national anthem and the Buffalo Police Department Honor Guard will serve as the game's color guard.

Since the tragedy, many community groups have and will continue to guide families through the grieving process. These groups organized food distributions, provided victim support services, and have led collaborative community recovery efforts for those effected. This is only a small representation of groups working towards uplifting the community, and many more groups were and still are involved to this day.

Representatives from the following groups will be recognized:

  • Best Self
  • ECMC Brave Program
  • Johnny B. Wiley
  • Buffalo Community Fridge
  • Buffalo Peacemakers
  • Buffalo NAACP
  • Resource Council of WNY
  • FeedMore Western New York
  • Buffalo Together Fund
  • 5/14 Survivor's Fund
  • Buffalo Niagara Partnership
  • Tops Leadership

Jillian Hanesworth, a community activist and organizer in Buffalo, will also take part in the ceremony. Hanesworth wrote a poem, "Choose Love," to highlight the Buffalo community in response to the tragedy. She continues to use art to further her commitment to social change.

"The attack on the East side community on May 14th showed us the importance of loving and valuing each other unconditionally," Hanesworth said. "As we work to create a community that is safe, equitable and inclusive, it's crucial that we allow love to be our foundation."

Hanesworth performs her poem in this tribute video (see below) that features appearances from following people:

  • Edreys Wajed: Owner, Partner Eat Off Art
  • Alexa Wajed: Co-Owner Eat Off Art
  • Alex Wright - President, African Heritage Food Co-Op
  • Tremaine Edmunds - Buffalo Bills linebacker and team captain
  • Catherine Roberts - CEO, Resource Council of Western New York
  • Allison DeHonney - CEO, Urban Fruits & Veggies LLC
  • Dion Dawkins - Buffalo Bills tackle
  • Sean "Pete" Carter - Co-Manager of Doris Records (home of the late Mack Luchey)
  • Benny The Butcher - Rapper & Actor

The full text of Hanesworth's poem is published below:

Choose Love

Choose Buffalo

The place where we build what we need

Where we run until we cross the finish line

And we fight 'till we're free

Where we pick up the broken pieces

And create something brand new

We fight hard and love harder

There's nothing we cannot do

We stare directly into the eyes of every painful truth

Not letting it define us

We decide what to choose

So, we choose love and light and family

We're the mafia after all

And when evil tries to break us

We choose to stand tall

And we'll shout loud and live louder until the walls of hate fall

Because justice can't be limited so we choose it for all

We choose healing around here

We eat storms like Buffalo wings

We'll jump through hoops and jump through tables

It's a Buffalo thing

So, no matter what others say

No matter what they try to do

Love, light, and each other is what we will always choose

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