Josh Allen spends some of his time away from the football field at Oishei Children’s Hospital, and he’s developed a relationship with patients, staffers and administrators alike.
When the Buffalo Bills quarterback mentioned that his grandmother had passed away before last week’s game, it stirred up feelings for the hospital’s president.
“We heard about his loss on Sunday and we were thinking of the best for him and hoping that he and his family were comforted,” Allegra Jaros, OCH’s president, told NFL.com. “And then the fans, really just organically, started donating, $17 at a time. And over the first 24 to 48 hours, we were so humbled and touched that we in the Buffalo community were able to show Josh and his family how much he means to us. And hopefully, that brought him some peace and feeling of support.”
It did more than that. By Friday night, donations from the Bills Mafia had reached $483,000 and Allen announced on Twitter that he put them over the top of $500,000 with a $17,000 donation himself.
As of late Saturday, the total was over $563,000.
As Allen told reporters earlier in the week about the passing of Patricia Allen, who he called Grammy: “So much good is coming out of a tough situation, it means the world to myself, it means the world to my family.”
More will come. Jaros said the plan is to wait a few weeks to give Allen and his family some time to grieve, then meet to discuss the next steps and decide how best to use the money to recognize and remember her life.
“It could be a sight, an area in the hospital, it could be a program,” Jaros explained. “It will be special to the family to see her name show up in a way that celebrates her life.”
Bills fans from all 50 states have donated. As of Friday night, 10 different countries were represented, with the Czech Republic being the furthest away.
“Bills fans are everywhere,” she said.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Allen was a regular visitor to the hospital to hang out with patients and provide some hope to those at the free-standing children’s hospital. Since the coronavirus hit, he’s continued, but through Zoom. He quickly made an impression on those in the hospital.
“I’ve really been impressed with his compassion and empathy,” Jaros said. “Not just his leadership skills, but also the incredible human being that he is.”
When the donations started coming in, the hospital’s website changed its donation button to a Bills-themed “17” — his uniform number. Like many hospitals, OCH relies heavily on donations to their foundation.
But they have never seen anything like this.
“It really took us by surprise,” Jaros said. “It’s amazing the impact he’s had on the community. It’s a true testament to how the Buffalo community feels about Josh.”