BUFFALO, N.Y. — Four days out and excitement is building for the Buffalo Bills' divisional-round matchup with the Cincinnati Bengals.
Bills Mafia is well known for tailgating outside Highmark Stadium, but when it comes to sparking spirit ahead of game day, one solution was a mobile rally hosted Wednesday by M&T Bank.
Instead of staying in one spot and having fans come to them, M&T employees, Billy Buffalo, former Bills running back Fred Jackson, and the Bills Stampede drum line traveled to fans around the city.
They made three spots riding aboard a decked-out tour bus with the words "Bill-lieve" and "Play-ay-ay-offs" painted on the side, visiting students and teachers at Westminster Community Charter School, patients and medical staff at Oishei Children's Hospital, and lastly the William-Emslie YMCA.
"We had our first experience with this last year in the playoffs and when we found out they were coming again we were so excited," said assistant principal Corey Wilson, who added that every Monday after a Bills' victory the school plays the "Shout Song."
Students and teachers danced, took photos with Billy Buffalo and Fred Jackson, and overall said they appreciated the chance to celebrate their team.
"Football brings us together as a community and the Western New York community, the Buffalo Bills, M&T Bank really coming together uplifting our community being there for one another, creating positivity through so many of the challenges that we've been through that's what's really important," said Eric Feldstein, WNY regional president for M&T Bank.
The next stop for the bus was Oishei Children's Hospital where Child Life Specialist Deb King said kids and medical staff also used the mobile rally as a chance to escape (for a minute) from the realities of hospital life and smile.
The Buffalo Balloon Company provided a truck filled with Bills' colored balloons for nurses and other staff to take photos with Fred Jackson. The Bills Stampede and some new team swag also made the trip enjoyable.
"A big part of child life is diversion and kind of taking the kids away from being in the hospital so we're just so glad that M&T and the hospital are partnering," King said.
She added that the trip was extra special for young patients as well, who for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic got to meet Billy Buffalo in person.