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Volunteers fill thousands of backpacks with school supplies to make Pancho Billa's last wish come true

Posted at 5:28 PM, Jun 10, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-10 18:14:47-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Volunteers with the Teacher's Desk are helping fulfill Ezra Castro's last wish: to make sure children in need get school supplies and backpacks.

Ezra Castro, who also went by Pancho Billa, was a Buffalo Bills' superfan from El Paso, Texas.

Helping make his wish come true is Bills Defensive Tackle Harrison Phillips, who Castro announced as a third round pick in 2018.

"Anytime he walked in a room, he lit it up. And he taught me a lot about positivity and being optimistic in the worst situations," he said. "And I think that Pancho's legacy will outlast almost all of us."

Phillips joined more than 300 volunteers who were pre-packing 'Pancho's Packs' at New Era Field on Monday.

They've have been there since 5 a.m., and their goal was to pack 4,500 backpacks and get them sent to Pancho Billa's hometown of El Paso, Texas by Tuesday.

Jessica Evans is a volunteer who said she's a born-and-raised Bills fan, and has been volunteering every Saturday for the past five years.

She said she's glad to play a part in his legacy.

"Being a Bills fan, you know him. You know of him, you know the legacy that he had," she said. "I mean the fact that his dying wish was to give back to the community, I mean it means so much,"

"The reach that one person can have, a superfan from Texas, the fact that he's affecting - over 10,000 kids are going to get backpacks with $100 in each of them of supplies. I mean that's far greater than I even think that I could do as an NFL player," said Phillips.

The remaining 5,000 to 6,000 backpacks will be packed with the help of weekly volunteer groups, and distributed to the 250 schools that benefit from the Teacher's Desk locally.