GETZVILLE – The Sauer family has blue on their side.
One by one, family members, friends, acquaintances and countless complete strangers flooded into The Chapel at Crosspoint on Sunday, creating a Standing Room Only crowd to raise money for four-year-old Ben Sauer. Wearing blue shirts and sweaters – in honor of Ben's favorite color and the color used to tell him apart from his twin brother – thousands of people symbolically and financially threw their support behind Ben, who is battling a rare form of brain cancer and faces a grim prognosis.
Thanks to the power of social media, the crowd grew so overwhelmingly large that it became difficult to walk even a few feet without an obstacle, even in a building as large as the chapel.
"I have to say," Mindy Sauer said, "I wasn't expecting even a fraction of this."
The "Blue For Ben" event featured auctions, raffles and an entrance fee to help raise money for the Sauer family's medical costs. The crowd mingled for hours and stood in long, winding lines for auctions, and in the middle of the benefit, Mindy Sauer appeared in the middle of the chapel's main concourse to thank the attendees, some of whom she said she had not seen in 20 to 30 years.
"Even in the midst of the bad, there is good," Sauer said. "To see the sheer number of people who have come to share their support, to offer this support and their prayers, it is the most valuable thing."
With the Peace Bridge, the Electric Tower and other structures already lighting the sky "Blue for Ben," the crowd learned on Sunday that Niagara Falls would also go blue at 15-minute intervals. "Blue For Ben" has been spotted at the Convention Center, as well as at the Buffalo Sabres game.
Danielle Kader, a friend of Mindy Sauer's, brought her own four-month-old baby to Sunday's benefit.
"It makes you feel proud to live in Buffalo," Kader said, "that a community would rally like this, on such a big level."