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'Just beautiful': Former WNY'er recalls being patient at Oishei amid donation blitz

Sara Jawhari living in Buffalo, in 1994.jpg
Posted at 7:45 PM, Jan 26, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-27 03:53:00-05

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — The fierce football fan rivalry is fueling an incredible show of support.

Kansas City Chiefs fans have been making headlines this week, with their own contribution to John R. Oishei Children's Hospital, after dealing the Bills a heartbreaking loss, Sunday night.

7 News' Pheben Kassahun spoke with a former Western New Yorker-turned Kansas City resident, who has a special connection to this latest fundraising blitz.

Bills fans, Chiefs fans and supporters nationwide continue to donate to Oishei Children's Hospital, a hospital that shares a special place in Sara Jawhari's {juh-HARI} heart.

She was a patient in 1995, after being hit by a car when she was only five years old.

Sara Jawhari said, "To see our fan base fundraise for a different Children's Hospital; one that I have such a strong, deep connection with, and my family does- is just beautiful."

Support for Oishei Children's Hospital continues to grow by the minute.

It is something that stemmed from a chiefs fan who wanted to support the Buffalo Bills and its community, following Sunday's heartbreaking loss to the Chiefs.

"It's really so heartwarming, and I'm so proud to be part of a community that has had another community in kind," John R. Oishei Children's Hospital president, Allegra Jaros said.

Oishei is treating 157 children, according to Jaros.

"Ensuring that we are available and that we're out in the community and we have teams like our pediatric care team, pediatric stat team, our emergency department that has care teams for traumas and level I trauma care for kids is really important because our community really cannot afford it. Getting help in the way of donations assures that we can buy the right equipment, have the right staff, in the right moment at the right time. You never know when that's going to be," Jaros said. "Josh has made a significant difference in certainly the financial well-being of our organization."

For a former Western New York native like Sara Jawhari, the children's hospital and its staff literally saved her life, in 1995.

7 News assignment manager managed to dig up the 1995 incident footage, recorded by the 7 News team:

"A Grand Island girl was rushed by Mercy Buffalo and then transported to Children's Hospital, tonight. Five-year-old Sara Jawhari was struck by a car on Grand Island Boulevard."

7 News Buffalo captured this footage in May of 1995.

Jawhari recalls wanting to join her siblings and cousins, as they headed to Grand Island's new "Fun Center".

"Me and my older siblings-- I'm the youngest of four-- and my cousins all wanted to walk over there. My mom was like, 'Alright, that's fine.' So, we went over there and we had to cross the road afterwards to go back to our apartment complex. My sister ran across the street and my cousin was holding my hand. I just wanted to copy the older siblings so I darted across the street and did not see that a car was coming. Slammed right into me. Don't remember anything after that."

It was a very serious situation but she said she is able to laugh about how wild it was, at the time.

Jawhari said, "I believe I was in a coma. It was looking pretty bleak for a bit. I remember my mom telling me that they called in the priest, which usually was not good news. I believe everything was shutting down, and then miraculously something happened.

She and her family had moved to Buffalo from overseas, in 1992. She recalls the City of Good Neighbors living up to its name, sending her gifts and well wishes throughout her recovery.

She said, "It was our first ever home. Welcomed us very well."

She said Buffalo being part of her most formative years, especially around her aunt's box TV as they cheered on the Bills.

"My aunt, who I have that photo from her in the basement next to her box TV, she actually passed in July. So, -- if I get emotional, I'm sorry, she shared. "Her fresh baked goods, feeding us while we watch those Bills games."

Jawhari still visits every summer, from Kansas City since her family lives in the region.

Though she has since converted to the Chiefs Kingdom fan base, many in her family are still tried and true Bills fans, including her aunt who recently passed over the summer.

Jawhari said, "I can't deny somewhere deep inside of me really wanted this win for the Bills, just so I could continue to see their smiles after just a really tough year."

As of news time, Oishei Children's Hospital says it's received more than $255,000 from 13,000 donors.