Buffalo Bills Fans ‘Bills Mafia’ Start Epic Fundraiser That’s So Far Raised Hundreds Of Thousands Of Dollars To Charity Lamar Jackson Supports: ‘Blessings In A Backpack’
The Bills and Ravens were opponents on the football field on Saturday in the NFL Playoffs. But, the winning team’s fans would end up joining forces with the team they just beat to support a common cause.
Bills fans, aka the ‘Bills Mafia’, decided to give back to a quarterback’s cause. But in this case it wasn’t for their team’s quarterback. It was for Ravens’ quarterback Lamar Jackson.
According to ESPN, “shortly after Buffalo’s 17-3 victory Saturday night over the Ravens — a game in which Jackson left during the second half to enter concussion protocol — momentum was generated among Bills fans online to show support for Jackson by supporting the ‘Blessings in a Backpack‘ Louisville chapter.”
Blessings in a Backpack announced that as of 12:11pm on January 20, there’s been $448,500 donated to Blessings in a Backpack by 16,450 fans, equating to 112,115 “hunger-free weekends!”
“I would like to thank all of the Buffalo Bills Mafia fans for your generous donations and contributions,” Jackson said in a statement. “I’m extremely grateful that you all communed together and donated to Blessings in a Backpack in my name. Your acts of kindness and generosity have not gone unnoticed, and it is greatly appreciated. Thank you again. Truzzzz.”
Blessings in a Backpack said the donations are coming from “most from the Bills Mafia fan base, but many from other NFL teams and people who ‘don’t like football but are inspired’ by the movement”.
Yahoo Sports’ Dan Wetzel detailed how this all came about from two Bills fans:
“I said, ‘This is not how this should have gone down,’” William Burke, Bills fan, said per Yahoo Sports. “I wanted the Bills to win, but with Lamar Jackson, I love the guy. He’s a (heck) of a player. He’s a (heck) of a guy…It’s Buffalo. We are the city of good neighbors. When we see something happen that we don’t think is right, we make it right.”
Yahoo Sports said “Burke and…Bills fan Dan Konopski…posted on social media that maybe Buffalo fans could donate $8 (Jackson’s jersey number) to the charity that the 2019 NFL MVP works with, “Blessings in a Backpack.”
Add more than $440,000 to that $8 and it has turned into this.
According to the Blessings in a Backpack site, on Monday “Bills Mafia challenged the Chiefs Kingdom to donate to help surpass the $500,000 mark before Sunday’s game. $500,000 will help provide 125 hunger-free weekends for kids who are experiencing food insecurity.”
The Bills are playing the Chiefs in the AFC Championship game. They’re tackling hunger along with trying to tackle to get to the Super Bowl.
What an incredible cause.
The non-profit’s slogan is ‘Who Will Feed Kids This Weekend?’
Looks like NFL fans from all over will be this weekend.
Blessings in a Backpack “mobilizes communities, individuals, and resources to provide food on the weekends for elementary school children across America who might otherwise go hungry. Every school-aged child in America has the nourishment needed to learn and grow. As a leader in the movement to end childhood hunger, Blessings in a Backpack strives to ensure children do not go hungry on the weekends by empowering individuals and communities to take action.”
NFL fans and more people are taking action right now and you can, too. If you’d like to take part in helping out a cause near and dear to Jackson, you can do so here at the Blessings in a Backpack #ChiefsBillsBackpackChallenge.
Blessings in a Backpack also said:
“As closures caused by COVID-19 lead to a rise in unemployment and poverty, it is projected that 18 MILLION CHILDREN are experiencing food insecurity. That’s one in four American children who may be struggling with access to food. The consequences of hunger are much more than a growling stomach. Poor nutrition can result in a weaker immune system, increased hospitalization, lower IQ, shorter attention spans, and lower academic achievement. Children are fed during the school week by federal government programs. We want to make sure they’re getting nutritional meals over the weekend, too.”Blessings in a Backpack
Ravens fans have also been appreciative:
On the Ravens’ site detailing these donations, fans are showing love to the Bills Mafia:
“This makes me root for Bills in the championship,” one Ravens fan said. “Go Bills!”
“Very classy,” another Ravens fan said. “Thumbs up to the Bill Fans.”
“Good people!” another Ravens fan said. “I will root for the Bills!”
Looks like the Bills gained some more fans, at least just for these playoffs, as they are one of four teams left fighting for that Super Bowl.
This might be the first time since 1993 the Bills have been to the AFC Championship but giving back to is all nothing new to the Bills Mafia, though.
According to ESPN: “At the end of the 2017 regular season, when quarterback Andy Dalton led the Cincinnati Bengals to a win that helped the Bills qualify for the playoffs, they did something similar for Dalton. Bills fans also donated…earlier this season to John R. Oishei Children’s Hospital after it was announced that quarterback Josh Allen‘s grandmother had died. Donations to that cause eclipsed $1 million.”
Props to the Bills Mafia. They have recognized this is more than football. There is more to life than winning a playoff football game. They’re winning at life right now. Go, Bills Mafia, keep doing your thing giving back, even to your opponents. Coming together, rallying together, working together for a good cause – that’s something we can all get behind.
Charlie Lapastora is a sports/news multimedia journalist who’s reported, written, produced, anchored, shot video/edited on different NBC, ABC, and FOX shows in multiple TV markets, along with digital & new media companies. Charlie has traveled the country telling national sports, news, feature, and original stories on a cable news network, airing on top 10 TV markets, satellite radio, and digital platforms. He is passionate about his faith, family—being a husband to whom he calls the G.O.A.T. of women—about reppin’ his home state of Michigan and Detroit teams (yes, including the Lions), good coffee, and loves how sports brings people together. He’s traveled the world leading and coaching sports camps and has also worked at the Detroit Pistons and LA Clippers’ NBA teams.
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