LOUISVILLE, K.Y. (WROC) — After Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson suffered a concussion against the Buffalo Bills in the second round of the NFL Playoffs Saturday, Bills fans (known as the Bills Mafia), decided they would give back to the opposing quarterback’s favorite charity.
This charity is Blessings in a Backpack. It’s a non-profit that operates in 47 states and Washington D.C.
The Bills Mafia helped to start a fundraising campaign that has already raised $435,000 as of 11 a.m. Tuesday .
But more on the charity itself, first:
“We provide children that live in food, insecure households with backpacks full of food over the weekend when there’s no school, breakfast or lunch,” said Nikki Grizzle of “Blessings,” with a healthy Louisville accent and fresh off a continuing virtual media tour. “So before the pandemic hit, um, we were supplying around 89,000 children across the United States with bags of food every Friday.”
The charity connected with Jackson — who played college football at the University of Louisville — through a series of fundraising events and connections. Grizzle says that since then, Jackson has stayed in touch, helped financially and at events, but hasn’t lost touch with “small town USA,” just the kind of place he wanted to help.
“(Lamar) just said Blessings was what so many kids that he knows or knew could have used growing up,” Grizzle said. “I feel like he’s still the same guy now that he was three years ago before any contract.”
Back to the Bills.
Since the Bills Mafia started this fundraising effort, Grizzle says it’s been nonstop. She gets updates every two hours, and that hasn’t changed since News 8 interviewed her. $435,000 would be a lot for most non-profits, but she puts in perspective for us:
“(Sunday) when we hit 9,000 donors, we’ve had some fiscal years where we did not have 9,000 online donors in the entire fiscal year,” she said. “It’s a good problem to have. It’s what we needed. It’s what everybody needed. I feel like the Bills Mafia is what everybody needed in 2021.”
As for her football allegiance?
“We at Blessings in a Backpack is now team Buffalo Bills,” she said, adding that the Bills Mafia gear is “legit.”
She also said that her husband has been dared to jump off a roof, his body painted red and blue, into a pile of backpacks.
If you, a Bills fan, or anyone else is interested in donating, you can here.