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NFL

The Buffalo Bills are helping the community to heal after mass shooting

Though the pain felt in Buffalo will likely never go away, the actions of the team and its staff will surely help to soothe.

Paul Rudder
Update:
The Buffalo Bills took to the streets on Wednesday to show their support for the community that is now in mourning after Saturday's racist mass shooting.
SCOTT OLSONAFP

In the wake of the awful tragedy that occurred last week, the Bills have vowed to do whatever they can to help the community heal.

The Bills hoping to help the community after mass shooting

As has already been seen, the Buffalo Bills’ entire organization is currently doing all it can to help the community not only heal, but rebuild after the terrible events that occurred last Saturday. According to reports, the Bills general manager Brandon Beane, coach Sean McDermott, owners Kim and Terry Pegula, executive vice president of Pegula Sports and Entertainment Ron Raccuia, the team’s captains, and many others in the organization have all got together to orchestrate an initiative with the sole purpose of making things right once again.

This is of course comes after a racially motivated attack was perpetrated by 18 year old Payton S. Gendron at a Tops Friendly Markets on Saturday. Gendron killed 10 people and injured three others. Of the 13 people in total who were shot, 11 of them were black. The teenager also live streamed his heinous actions on the Twitch platform. Where the team itself is concerned, players met on Monday in person to have an emotional conversation about what to do next, which in turn led to a number of ideas being put forward as to how they could support the community. three others, the Bills knew they wanted to help in some way beyond giving money and kind words.

The Bills shared food and love with the community

“The Buffalo community, they think highly of the Buffalo Bills, and so it is our job and our role to be here for the community, to be out here and be reachable, to be able to have these conversations,” running back and special teams captain Taiwan Jones said. “And in a moment like this the most important thing is just to show love. So, we wanted to come out here and just love on people, show people that we care, we feel for you,” he added. Indeed, Jones was one of the key players responsible for the organization of the effort. The captain was of course joined by the entire squad, coaches, front office members and even other members of staff when they took to the streets. Incidentally, the franchise was also joined by the Buffalo Sabres and National Lacross League’s Buffalo Bandits. All three teams used tour buses to visit the neighborhood in which the shooting took place and while wearing black T-shirts which read “Choose Love,” they proceeded to leave flowers at a shrine and then went on to serve food to some 750 people along with groceries.

“The only thing we care about ... I kind of compare it to one game at a time, like we’re here for our community and that’s it,” quarterback Josh Allen said. “And if people wanna look at that and find ways to be enlightened or be acted upon where they see this and they wanna start acting upon in their communities, I think that can work. But right now, we’re just here for our community and that’s all. That’s all that matters to us right now.”

All who were affected can count on the Buffalo Bills

If the some 50 players in attendance wasn’t enough to show the team’s commitment to their community, there were also those who flew into Buffalo specifically for the moment, like wide receiver Stefon Diggs, flew in to Buffalo specifically to be there to show support. “Buffalo is, honestly, this is my first home,” tackle Dion Dawkins said. “This is the place where I first bought a house, I first started to raise a family. ...It has affected every last one of us, some more than others, but an event like this, it affected everybody at a height that really can’t be explained. And once again, really just being here for the community, which is our community, is where the growth helps. It’s gonna take brick-by-brick to build it back, because we had somebody that targeted a community, a neighborhood of African American people. That’s really where the hurt is. And the fact that some people have lost loved ones. And it’s just unbelievable.”

In yet another show of where the Bills’ priorities are, it should be said that the team is currently in the middle of its off-season training program. Coach Sean McDermott couldn’t hide his sense of pride when considering what his team did. Whether it was Allen serving pasta, the rookies parceling out food, or simply just speaking to the community as a group, it was a moment that most definitely had an impact on all who were there. With that said, the Bills know that there is still a long way to go. “This is something that we all, the Bills included, the whole community, we gotta continue to rally around all the affected families,” Beane said. “The national media is here for now, but there’s gonna be another story soon. It’s up to us and we plan to lead the charge This is not gonna leave people’s lives in a month or a year. This is a lasting thing, and we gotta do our part.”

The Bills put their money where their mouth is

While the team is more than clear on the idea that it will take more than food hampers and hugs to heal the damage done, they certainly didn’t stop there. According to an announcement on Wednesday from the Buffalo Bills Foundation, along with the NFL Foundation, they will be donating $400,000 to the community. The money will go toward the Buffalo Together Community Response Fund and a number of non-profit organizations that work specifically in emergency response efforts.

Jones added: “We’re here to listen to what we need to do. We have an open ear to hear from the community how we can help. What we do know is we have to be here; we have to show up. So, it is easy for us to be here. The hard part is like you said, thinking of a long-term plan going forward.” Josh Allen also echoed his teammate’s sentiment saying, “It’s hard to find the words to say, and I don’t know if there’s anything you can say to help somebody that’s uneasy about something like that feel better, other than saying, ‘I’m here for you. I hear you. I’m listening to you, and if there’s any way that I can help, let me know because I’m willing to do it,’” he said. “Just being there for them to lean on when they need it. Again, that’s a microcosm of what our community needs right now and that’s why we’re out here today.”

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