Through the Ralph C. Wilson Foundation, the Wilsons have given $1 million to honor the Buffalo Bills team physicians in the UB Department of Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine, where they teach and train five orthopaedic residents and two sports medicine fellows per year.
The announcement was made at the New York State Center for Excellence in Bioinformatics & Life Sciences in downtown Buffalo on Tuesday. Among those in attendance were Mrs. Mary Wilson, wife of Mr. Ralph Wilson, Jr., Bills owner, Dr. John Marzo, MD, Bills medical director who joined the team as an orthopedic surgeon in 1991, and Bills offensive tackle Demetrius Bell who, in 2009, underwent cartilage transplant surgery on his right knee and came back as a starter the past two seasons.
Mary Wilson shared her husband's important message to the UB doctors, "You're the most important player on our team."
Marzo said he and the other 24 members of the department are "extremely grateful" to the Wilsons for the gift, which will enable them to fund several priorities, including
▪ buying an arthroscopy simulator and other equipment for the arthroscopy lab;
▪ hiring a sports medicine clinical research coordinator to oversee major research studies;
▪ supporting the Buffalo Bills Sports Medicine Symposium
"This generous gift from Mr. and Mrs. Wilson means the difference between a good program and an exceptional one for our sports medicine residents and fellows here at UB," Marzo said. "I speak for the other team physicians and the entire orthopaedics and sports medicine department when I say that this donation is invaluable to our efforts."
Bell credits Marzo—a University of Buffalo associate professor of orthopaedics—with saving his career as a professional football player.
"I feel great, I have recovered well and every day, I thank him," said Bell, the starting left tackle for the Bills.
Bell said he and other Bills players hold Marzo, his fellow team doctors and the team's athletic trainers in the highest regard.
"They are some of the best in the business," Bell said. "They do a tremendous job diagnosing the players who have been injured. They are always helping us out, visiting the training facility regularly."
Mary Wilson added, "We are so fortunate to have these great professionals on the sidelines here in Buffalo at many of our sporting events, and what better way to honor their professionalism, their commitment, and their vision than with the Bills team physician fund."
The Wilsons gift means that Marzo and his Buffalo Bills and UB faculty colleagues can continue a prospective clinical study of the utility of chondroplasty in the knee, as well as carry out future studies in the areas of concussion and biomechanics.
For athletes like Demetrius Bell, who has resumed his role as the starting left tackle, that is good news.
"These UB doctors are so important to all athletes, on a daily basis," Bell said. "Thanks to Dr. Marzo, I am recovered again and feeling strong."
Bell's performance on the field, and Marzo's performance off the field, are both major factors in the Bills success. With the team's 2-0 start to the season, the UB doctor's contributions are even more appreciated.
The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public university, a flagship institution in the State University of New York system and its largest and most comprehensive campus. UB's more than 28,000 students pursue their academic interests through more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a member of the Association of American Universities.