ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Dozens of players got the chance to play on the same field as the Buffalo Bills while supporting a great cause this weekend.
The Buffalo Sun Bowl is a 6-on-6 flag football tournament being held at Highmark Stadium in Orchard Park to raise money for Special Olympics New York.
Games end at 5:10 p.m. Saturday and go from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday.
"The Buffalo Sun Bowl is an exciting, unique opportunity for fans to run out of the tunnel and play on the same field as the AFC East Champions," said Special Olympics New York President & CEO Stacey Hengsterman. "This is one of the public events we missed most when it had to be canceled last year. We couldn't be happier to be able to bring it back this summer."
There are 57 teams competing in the tournament. Each team is made up of up to 12 players. There are different divisions: amateur (just for fun!), co-ed, first responders, and pro, which is the most competitive.
"We are honored to be a part of the Buffalo Sun Bowl," said Mike Hefferon, captain of Seneca County Sheriff's team. "We look forward to the event and the positive impact our fundraising efforts can make on the lives of Special Olympics New York athletes."
Adult teams were asked to raise $1,200, and student teams had to raise $1,000 in order to participate. All proceeds from the event benefit Special Olympics New York athletes. This year's event has raised more than $143,000 for the athletes and unified partners in Western New York.
"The Erie County District Attorney's office takes pride in participating in the annual Snow Bowl, this year re-named 'Sun Bowl,'" said Meredith Mohun, co-captain of District Attorney's team, which competes in the tournament annually. "We take pride in the dual competition that this event offers.
"The first is the ability to channel all of our inner AFC East Champions on the field, but more importantly, the privilege to raise money and sponsor as many Special Olympics New York athletes as we can for their respective seasons."
Special Olympics New York is the largest chapter in the country and serves more than 68,000 athletes across the state. The organization provides year-round sports training, athletic competition, and health screenings. All programs are free of charges to athletes and their families and caregivers.
Special Olympics also partners with about 250 schools statewide to offer Unified Sports, where students with and without disabilities compete as teammates.