BUFFALO (N.Y.) — Conversations began Saturday night between Buffalo BillsGeneral manager Brandon Beane and Sean McDermott are the owners. Ron Raccuia is the executive vice president at Pegula Sports and Entertainment. The team's captains and other members of the organization are also included.
After Saturday's racist attack at Tops Friendly Markets that left 10 people dead and three others injured, the Bills realized they wanted to do more than give money and kind words.
On Monday, the Bills met face-to-face to have some difficult conversations about what was next.
It was then possible to bring some light and help to the community on Wednesday.
“The Buffalo community is proud of the Buffalo Bills. It's our job and our responsibility to be here for them, to reachable and have these conversations.” Special teams captain Taiwan Jones said. “And in such a moment, it is important to just show love. We wanted to be out there and show people we care.
Along with members of the staff, there are also Bills players, coaches and front office personnel. Buffalo SabresNational Lacrosse League Buffalo Bandits and their tour bus arrived with black T-shirts saying, “Choose Love.” They left flowers in a shrine, and served chicken alfredo to 750 people. World Central Kitchen helped them distribute groceries.
“The only thing that we care about is… “I kind of like it as one game at a moment, like we're there for our community and that is it,” quarterback Josh Allen said. “People could look at it and discover ways to be enlightened and acted upon. They could also start acting on this in their communities. Right now, we are just here for the community. We don't care about anything else right now.
Some players like wide receiver out of the approximately 50 present. Stefon DiggsHe flew to Buffalo to express his support. Jones, who had a relationship with Candles In The S.U.N in the past and was one of key players in organizing this effort, was also a member of the organization's board.
The Bills organization had a record attendance, and the building was empty in Orchard Park in New York. Everyone who could be there came to help.
“Buffalo, it is, honestly, my first home,” tackle Dion Dawkins said. “This is where I bought my first house and started to have a family. … It has affected all of us. Some more than others. But an event such as this, affected everyone at an extent that cannot be explained. The growth is a result of being there for our community.
It will take brick-by-brick, because someone targeted a community, which was a neighborhood of African American residents. There's real pain there. It's also the reality that many people have lost loved ones. It's amazing.”
McDermott was proud of the generosity shown by the Bills' personnel and players, as well as the fact that they were in their offseason training program. The impact was evident, from Allen serving pasta, to the rookies cutting up food, and even just talking with the community. The group was even visible in traffic that slowed right next to it.
However, the Bills acknowledged that this is just the beginning.
Beane said, “This issue is one that all, including the Bills, can work together to address. We gotta keep rallying around the families affected.” The national media are present for the moment, but there will be a new story soon. It is up to us to lead this charge. People's lives are not going to change in a matter of months or years. This is something that will last forever, and we must do our part.
“… It is important to show love in a situation like this. We wanted to show love and support each other, so we came out to just do that.
Jones said, “We are here to listen to our community. We're open to suggestions from the community and are willing to listen. We know that we must be there; we have have to show up. It is simple for us to get here. It is the hard part, as you mentioned, to think about a long-term strategy going forward.
In addition to their physical presence on Wednesday, the Buffalo Bills Foundation announced a $400,000 donation. This was in conjunction with the NFL Foundation. The Buffalo Together Community Response Fund will receive the money, as well as a number of non-profit organizations that work on emergency response.
“It is difficult to find words to express my feelings, and I don’t know what you can do to make someone feel better about it. I am listening. Allen added, “I am listening to you. If there is any way I can help, let's talk because I'm willing.” They can rely on me to be there when they need me. This is a microcosm for what our community needs right at this moment and why we are here today.