This year has been surreal in so many ways, but some of that strangeness has materialized in the form of the unexpected — and unprecedented — generosity seen throughout Western New York.
I had the privilege to see this compassion up close recently, following the death of someone I had never met. In fact, nearly everyone involved had not known her.
Patricia Allen, grandmother of Buffalo Bills Quarterback Josh Allen, passed away suddenly on Saturday, Nov. 7. The Bills QB informed his coaches — but few others — and put aside his emotions to play in the team’s game the next day. He went on to produce one of his best performances — and lead one of the team’s biggest wins — of the year.
A bizarre year. A year in which the team is producing one of its best seasons in franchise history, despite having no throngs of screaming fans in the stands. No bratwursts or beers in the stadium. No raucous #BillsMafia tailgates in the parking lot.
Yet, within hours of the end of the game, news spread about Josh’s loss, and while Patricia lived across the U.S. in California, her grandson is now an adopted son of ours — and we take care of our own.
Within 48 hours, more than $200,000 had been raised by fans who created the Patricia Allen Fund at Oishei Children’s Hospital, where I serve as a pediatric surgeon. Josh has been a strong supporter of @OCHBuffalo since his arrival in Buffalo in 2018, and savvy Bills fans were quick to show their appreciation and condolences. By Dec. 4, that figure had exceeded $700,000 — reached, remarkably, mostly by donations of only $17… Josh’s jersey number.
Our hospital has since renamed a wing on our sports-themed 10th floor to be “The Patricia Allen Pediatric Recovery Wing.” The funds are also allowing us to create “The Buffalo Bills Fans’ Fun Zone” play room within this wing.
It’s been a wonderful moment to witness — and to support, personally, as well — in such a difficult year. It’s also a humbling act of kindness from more than 27,400 of our neighbors (and counting), for which my @OCHBuffalo colleagues and I are beyond grateful.