BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — "Choose Love". Two words that have taken on an important meaning in Buffalo over these last few days.
"In a world that has so much hate, all we can do is choose love every day," Bills tight end Dawson Knox said. "Love is the most important trait we can have."
Those two words were on the shirts of Bills, Bandits, and Sabres players and coaches Wednesday afternoon as the three professional sports teams came together to support a community that's been grieving. It comes just days after a mass shooting at the Tops Supermarket on Jefferson Avenue that took the lives of ten people and injured three others.
"Buffalo is my first home. It's the place where I first bought a house and raised a family," Bills tackle Dion Dawkins said. "This has affected everybody who lives here."
"Things will never be the same for a lot of these families," Bills general manager Brandon Beane said. "You just wanna find a way to help. We thought this was a good start."
"To be in the community, to give some hope, to share some grief, that's how we're going to get past this," Bills quarterback Josh Allen added. "I'm glad we could do that for the community."
The players and staffs first held a moment of silence led by Bills defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier. They then laid flowers at the memorial outside of the Supermarket and later prepared and handed out food to the local community.
"To not talk about it and be about it, to be present, it's a whole different ball game," Dawkins said. "To see a face, to see a smile, to see our logo, to see us here, that's where it all comes full circle."
"I just wanted to talk to people and ask them how they're doing," Sabres forward Kyle Okposo said. "When you look into somebody's eyes and you see what it does to their spirit, how much it lifts them to feel that little bit of normalcy in this time of chaos, was worth every second of coming here."
Players in all three organizations have been trying to do their part in helping this community heal. Bandits' Dhane Smith had pledged to donate $50 for every goal the team scores this weekend, and will also be auctioning off several items. The Bills Bills Foundation is donating $200,000 to support local response efforts with the NFL Foundation matching that amount. Other players like Shaq Lawson have donated to the Thurman Thomas Family Foundation, which as a whole, is raising money for the families of the victims.
"Everybody just wants to lend a hand," Beane said. "The guys are here in the offseason to practice and prepare for the season, but this is life. We all gotta support each other and it's our job to support this community and everyone in the city of Buffalo."