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Meet The Mafia: Joanie Podkowinski-DeKoker

Riding an impressive streak of 129 consecutive, live Bills games, Joanie Podkowinski-DeKoker has seen her team play in almost every stadium possible. But her biggest point of pride is when other female super-fans call her a role-model. Our "Meet The Mafia" series returns with a true trailblazer for the women super fans of the "Bills Mafia."

ORCHARD PARK, NY-- When's the last time you completed something 129 times in a row, without a single miss?

That's how many Buffalo Bills games Joanie Podkowinski-DeKoker can say she's been to consecutively.

And we're not just talking about home games: Joanie's been to Bills games in nearly every NFL stadium in the country.

A true trailblazer for women Bills fans, Joanie has embraced a few nicknames over the years.

"Best Bills Fan" is one.

(She's got the original e-mail address to prove it.)

But perhaps her most treasured nickname is one she's affectionately called by her fellow Bills super fans.

"All the kids know me," Joanie said, taking a break on her drive home from Green Bay. "And I feel like their mom."

Fellow super fan Pancho Billa himself calls Joanie his "Bills Mom."

"I never had kids," Joanie smiled. "I thought if I had kids, I'd want him to be my son."

Joanie's love of the Bills started when she was 11-years old, as she'd watch her dad shouting at the radio or their home television set in Buffalo.

"And he could not be disturbed during those three hours, so I made him teach me football," Joanie said.

After that, he took Joanie to her first game at the old War Memorial Stadium, and she's been hooked ever since.

Joanie eventually grew up, got married to her husband David, and moved to California for 25 years.

In 2005, Joanie found herself in a tough situation: a mother in upstate New York, diagnosed with dementia, tugged at her heartstrings to return home.

The tough part, she said, was deciding to leave her husband David back in California.

"When my mom was getting sick, he said, 'You really should go back and take care of her,'" she said. "And I'm really glad I'm here."

Although she sees David only 2-3 times each year, Joanie has dedicated her football seasons to seeing the Bills play every single game without exception.

It started back in 2010, when her friend and fellow super fan Pinto Ron recommended she attend one entire season.

From then on, she said, she couldn't imagine watching another game on TV.

But if she was going to do this, Joanie said, she needed an outfit to really give it her all.

"One of my best friends was a seamstress. Actually, she made my wedding dress too," smiled Joanie. "So she made me my first Bills dress, and I wore it the first time to a game here in 1998. That game, I got my first hat, a straw hat with a big bow in the back, and I thought 'Oh my god, that would really make my outfit.' The pins came a little later."

80 pins, to be exact, from her travels to Bills games, along with some extra pins she's picked up at Super Bowls along the way.

Seeing each pin takes her back to another game she's seen during her 50-year fandom.

"I have nightmares that pins drop off my hat. I don't know they're dropping off, and I'll look at the hat later... And it's empty. Tell me I'm not neurotic," Joanie laughed.

Each season of following the Bills costs Joanie about $10,000-12,000; she's able to avoid extra costs by staying with friends and using travel miles whenever she can.

Joanie said she's got another 30 years left in the tank, and she's planning on going until she can watch the Bills win a Super Bowl.

But as she gears up for her 130th game, Joanie said the biggest impacts come from people who point her out-- at home or on the road-- and thank her for being a role model.

In fact, it happened to her just a few days earlier in Green Bay.

"I was like, really? I'm just a fan," Joanie smiled sheepishly. "I think it's because I'm a woman. There's a lot of women fans now, but its still in the minority. When I started at 11 years old, I didn't realize how in the minority I must have been then."

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