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'Merry Christmas Jay' honored by Bisons after saving lives during December blizzard

A humble diesel mechanic, who broke into a school and led others to safety, threw out the first pitch Friday night at a Bisons game.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — The Buffalo Bisons took on the Rochester Red Wings Friday night at Sahlen Field, where it was also Marvel Defenders of the Diamond Night. 

While some young fans donned costumes of their favorite Marvel characters, they also got to see a real live hero take the mound just before game time.

It was a warm spring night at the ballpark, with conditions which were a far cry of those under which Jay Withey first made news. 

It was nearly five months ago during the Christmas blizzard when Jay, like many others, was stuck in his vehicle trying to survive ... until a point when he thought he could not.

"I almost died myself," Withey recalled. "My body was shutting down, my eyes were going black."

Withey abandoned his truck and stumbled toward a school in Cheektowaga, where he broke a window to get inside.

Once he recovered, he went back out into the blizzard, leading 24 other stranded persons to safety.

The group spent Christmas Eve and part of Christmas Day eating food from the cafeteria, and when they left, Withey left a note apologizing for breaking the window, and eating the provisions, and offering to pay for it all.

He signed it, "Merry Christmas, Jay."

To this day, Withey and the others keep in touch through a group chat.

"As a group we still talk about what happened. It's not something you get over very easily," Withey said.

On what was a night to celebrate heroes night at the ballpark, the Bisons chose Withey, a 27-year-old diesel mechanic, for the honor of throwing out the first pitch.

Withey doesn't think of himself as a hero, but does believe in an old saying that those who do good are rewarded.

"Ten times over," he said.

It's not the first time Withey has been recognized for his actions.

Buffalo Bills Hall of Fame Running back Thurman Thomas and his wife, Patty, presented Withey with tickets to the Super Bowl back in February, and more recently he received recognition from some complete strangers.

"I was at a concert and and a couple nice ladies behind me recognized me and wouldn't let me pay for anything," he said.

There was one way that Jay Withey was no different than anyone else asked to throw out the first pitch at a baseball game.

 "I'm just hoping I can make that 60 feet," he laughed, as the moment arrived for him to take the mound.

With his family looking on, Withey was introduced to the crowd. He took his windup and..... sailed the pitch over the head of Buster Bison, who was crouched in the catcher's position.

 It didn't seem to matter as he received an ovation from the crowd.

"I'm very honored," said Withey. "This is all very surreal, and I'm just humbled to be here."

Say hey...Christmas Jay.

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