Buffalo sports stars & media personalities helped raise money
Western Region Off Track Betting and Batavia Downs Gaming announced a celebrity bartending night raised $5,200 in support of Connor O’Neil and his family in their battle against cancer.
The event was held Oct. 29 at the Labatt Blue Zone at 34 Rush inside Batavia Downs. Hall of Fame Buffalo Bills running back Thurman Thomas, for whom the bar is named, was there along with Buffalo Sabres great Danny Gare. Media personalities DJ Jickster from “97 Rock,” Patrick Hammer from WGRZ and Dave Greber from WIVB were also in attendance. Funds were raised from a portion of sales made at the restaurant between 8:30 and 10:30 p.m., as well as via a live auction for autographed sports memorabilia. Items that were auctioned off included an autographed Dylan Cozens jersey, Kyler Murray helmet and Thomas ball and jersey.
“We were honored to help raise money for such a worthy cause,” Batavia Downs Gaming’s President and CEO Henry Wojtaszek said. “It was great seeing so many well-known personalities like Thurman Thomas, Danny Gare, DJ Jickster, Patrick Hammer and Dave Greber come out in support of the Connor Strong Foundation. We are encouraged by the number of folks that came out to help raise money and awareness that evening. The people of Western New York are so generous and we are lucky to live in such a caring community.”
Connor’s uncle, Kevin O’Neil, said, “We’d like to thank Batavia Downs and Gaming and Henry Wojtaszek for an amazing night. We are deeply humbled by the event and realize how fortunate we are to live in Western New York and to be surrounded by the good people that were with us that night. My nephew, Connor, and the vision for the Connor Strong Foundation will both succeed because of the people who are here to help support those affected by childhood cancer. The kindness in this world can be overwhelming, and Friday night was a testament to that.”
Connor is a 9-year-old boy battling a rare form of brain cancer. After visiting Oishei Children’s Hospital in Buffalo, he has had two surgeries to remove brain tumors. He continues his fight at St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, where he has begun his radiation treatment and chemotherapy sessions.
Donations made to www.Connorstrong.org provide assistance for Connor’s personal care and comfort, and for the journey that lies ahead for his family.