Each summer, Buffalo Bills All-Pro safety Micah Hyde brings together his teammates on the softball diamond to raise money for his IMagINe For Youth foundation, which helps financially disadvantaged kids thrive academically and athletically by donating supplies, resources and equipment.
But this year, less than 24 hours before the charity softball tournament was scheduled to begin, the Buffalo community was rocked by a racially-driven mass shooting at a Tops Friendly Market on Jefferson Avenue in a predominantly Black neighborhood.
Ten people were killed and three others were wounded in the shooting, which targeted the Tops because of its large Black population and left the Buffalo community reeling and wounded from this act of domestic terrorism.
While Hyde said he contemplated canceling his charity softball tournament, in the end, he decided to bring his teammates together to support his hurting city, opting to spread love and joy during a time of immense grief.
“I heard the news yesterday and was simply shocked. I still can’t believe it. But when there’s hate in the world, you kind of erase it with love and coming out here today and showing the community love, love to the youth, love to the community, love to the foundation. I guess that’s the way to combat it. We had a bunch of conversations yesterday and into this morning,” Hyde said to reporters Sunday during the softball tournament.
“Yesterday, to be honest, we didn’t feel right even having this game. But then having conversations with some people, we felt it was important to get the community out and put a smile on their face, get the players in front of them, and we’re doing it for a good cause.”
Started in 2019, this year’s charity softball tournament saw more than three dozen Bills players come out to support the event, including quarterback Josh Allen, cornerback Tre’Davious White, safety Jordan Poyer and tight end Dawson Knox, along with Bills legends Thurman Thomas and Steve Tasker.
“It’s still hard to wrap my head around it,” said Allen. “Just the heartbreak, the sense of this weird feeling that I have. My heart goes out to the victims and their families. We really haven’t talked as a team yet. We’ll be in the building tomorrow and I’m sure we’ll talk about it, figure out a way to help the situation, help the families out. It’s something that you never think it’s going to happen in your community and when it does, it hits home. I was sick to my stomach all day yesterday.”
The event’s sponsors delivered a check for $200,000 to Hyde’s IMagINe For Youth foundation before the game, and Hyde and his wife, Amanda, said that a portion of the proceeds from the silent auction will go to the victims' families. Additionally, all money raised from the softball game will have an impact on the Western New York community.
“We’re obviously generating a lot of money for the foundation and for the youth in Western New York,” Hyde said of the event, which drew more than 10,000 fans to Sahlen Field in downtown Buffalo. “And obviously when something like yesterday happens, we just want to help so that was where that decision came in.”
Thank you Bills Mafia and the entire Buffalo community for coming together today as we begin the long process of support and healing for our community. We are sending prayers to the families impacted, and we will be donating a portion of today’s game proceeds to the families.— Micah Hyde (@micah_hyde) May 15, 2022
“It’s going towards such a great cause,” added Allen, who delivered a memorable moment when he blasted a home run over the fence in left field, winning the event’s home run derby and sending the crowd into a frenzy.
“I wouldn’t miss this for the world. I had to jump through some hoops to get here, but we got here and we’re having a good time.”
"I'm sick to my stomach. We're going to meet as a team and find the best ways to help the families and community effected." pic.twitter.com/yZ6oZPb50x— Buffalo Bills (@BuffaloBills) May 15, 2022
Since coming to the Bills from the Green Bay Packers in 2017, Hyde has embraced Buffalo as his home, giving back to the Western New York community whenever and however possible.
Sunday’s charity softball tournament served as further proof to Hyde that Buffalo is a special place, and as the community grieves following the mass shooting, Hyde said he and his teammates are grieving, too.
“You can go anywhere in this nation and I don’t think you find a better community than Buffalo, and I honestly mean that. This place is home. I grew up here, became a man here, had kids, was married, lived here in my first home. This place is home to me, and I cherish this place a lot,” Hyde told reporters at the softball tournament.
“To see this, it just means the world to me from the bottom of my heart that they’re coming out here to support the foundation, support the kids in Western New York and support the Buffalo Bills.”
The Bills have collected resources for fans who want to do their part and give back to the victims of Saturday’s shooting. The team’s response ranges from food donations and mental health services to food assistance and discussing ways to overcome racism.