Bills & Verizon Wireless Make Tornado Relief Donation

April 29, 2011 Updated Apr 29, 2011 at 8:12 PM EDT

By WKBW News

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Bills & Verizon Wireless Make Tornado Relief Donation

April 29, 2011 Updated Apr 29, 2011 at 8:12 PM EDT

Orchard Park, NY ( release)– The Buffalo Bills announced today that Bills Owner Mr. Ralph Wilson, Jr. and the Buffalo Bills teamed with Verizon Wireless to donate $10,000 to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund to assist with the relief of the recent tornado disasters in the south. Russ Brandon, Bills chief executive officer, will announce the donation at the team’s Season Ticket Holder Draft Party in the Bills Fieldhouse Friday at 6:30 p.m. when he introduces first round draft pick defensive tackle Marcell Dareus. Over 2,000 Bills Season Ticket Holders are expected to attend.

In what has been described as the worst natural disaster in the United States since Hurricane Katrina, the tornadoes hit six states, including Alabama, where there was the most damage. There were 160 tornadoes reported and an estimated 300 people lost their lives.

“While we are thrilled to have Marcell Dareus as our first round draft pick, we are saddened by the events that took place in his home state of Alabama and the rest of the south,” said Russ Brandon, Bills chief executive officer. “On behalf of Mr. Wilson and the entire Bills organization, our prayers are with those affected by the tornadoes. We are happy to partner with Verizon Wireless and donate to the relief efforts.”

Verizon Wireless is supporting a national text-to-donate campaign with the American Red Cross. People may text REDCROSS to 90999 to donate to the disaster relief fund. A tax deductible $10 donation will appear on people’s cell phone bills and all the money will be directed to helping tornado victims and families.

Russ Preite, president of Verizon Wireless’ Upstate New York Region, stated, “Our network, sales and customer service teams in the storm-damaged areas have been hard at work making sure people there are able to reach out to family, friends and other loved ones with free phone calls and phone charging stations at stores, and setting up portable cell sites to maintain network connectivity in the hardest hit areas.”

At a post-draft press conference Dareus confirmed that his family was safe.

Dareus said, “I talked to my brother and it’s kind of hard, but we’ve been texting back and forth and I got to talk to him briefly. I’m happy that everybody is safe. Everybody else here was praying for me and I’m glad my prayers were answered and I’ll be going back home to see my brothers and sisters.”

“On behalf of everyone at the American Red Cross, I want to thank Mr. Wilson and Verizon Wireless for their generous support of our Disaster Relief fund,” said Heather Filipowicz, CFRE Sr. Director, Advancement. “These donations allow us to open shelters, provide food and water, and distribute relief supplies to those affected by the devastation in Alabama and neighboring states.”

Verizon Wireless operates the nation’s fastest, most advanced 4G network and largest, most reliable 3G network. The company serves 104 million total wireless connections, including more than 88 million retail customers. Headquartered in Basking Ridge, N.J., with 85,000 employees nationwide, Verizon Wireless is a joint venture of Verizon Communications (NYSE, NASDAQ: VZ) and Vodafone (LSE, NASDAQ: VOD). For more information, visit www.verizonwireless.com. To preview and request broadcast-quality video footage and high-resolution stills of Verizon Wireless operations, log on to the Verizon Wireless Multimedia Library at www.verizonwireless.com/multimedia.

Founded in 1959, the Buffalo Bills are one of the most storied franchises in the National Football League (NFL). The Bills have won two American Football League (AFL) Championships (1964 - 1965) and won an NFL record four straight AFC Championships (1990 - 1993) that included four trips to the Super Bowl. The Bills pride themselves on supporting the Western New York community by establishing player outreach programs, supporting NFL educational and physical fitness youth initiatives and increasing community awareness. Under the guidance of Hall of Fame member and original team founder, Ralph C. Wilson, Jr., the Bills are proud to be a part of the Buffalo community for over 50 years. For more Bills community relations information, please visit buffalobills.com or call (716) 648-1800.