BLASDELL, N.Y. — One of the things that makes Buffalo special is its attachment to our sports teams. This week they showed they love the city and its people right back.
Buffalo Bills offensive linemen Spencer Brown and Tommy Doyle already had plans to be out in their community this week honoring local high school athletes at the Ilio DiPaolo Scholarship Awards Night before they headed out to help the city after the Tops shooting.
"It's a punch in the stomach for sure," Brown said. "People started asking me first if I was OK. I'm like, 'Yeah, I'm fine, what's going on?' Then I kind of found out through the news, and then I heard it was Tops. That's right next to where I live."
"I've never been exposed to anything like that from a small town. It's kind of a shock that it can hit close to home, so just praying for their families and what they're going through. Hopefully they can find some comfort."
Brown and Doyle were at Ilio DiPaolo's restaurant on Tuesday night with those high school wrestlers. The next morning, they were with their teammates helping out their community in need.
"Everyone just needs to rally around each other and do what they can do to support and help take care of each other and just stay strong," Doyle said.
Tuesday night was the first time the Harrison Phillips #97 Award was given to a heavyweight wrestler, Konrad Krzyszton from Frontier High School.
The former Bills defensive tackle has stayed involved with the Buffalo community since becoming a Minnesota Viking this offseason.
"It's definitely just sickening and heartbreaking," Phillips told 2 On Your Side over the phone on Saturday.
"It pisses you off, and it's just terrible. I love how the community has rallied since this, and hopefully there's somehow, someway that good can come somehow from this terrible tragedy."
Phillips said he and his Playmakers Foundation, which supports people with developmental differences and special needs, are figuring out how they can help the community and the victims' families.
The Ilio DiPaolo Scholarship Fund, in honor of the late professional wrestler who lived in the Western New York area, also donated $2,000 this week for the families.
Board of directors president and former Bills trainer Bud Carpenter said the foundation wanted to help support them not just financially but spiritually, too.