The Buffalo Bills broke ground on their new stadium this week, but before the moment when the shovels ceremoniously hit earth, Bills’ owner Terry Pegula took to the podium to address the crowd.
During his speech, in which he said that he wanted to fill the new stadium with more memories and continue a legacy, Pegula took several minutes to pay homage to the victims of a racially motivated mass shooting on May 14, 2022 that took the lives of ten people at the Jefferson Avenue Tops Friendly Supermarket on Buffalo’s east side.
“But we also remember other heroes in Buffalo who deserve to be mentioned,” Pegula choked out between tears.
The owner of the Buffalo Bills then took time to read the names of each of the ten victims who lost their lives — those who never returned home to loved ones — among the 13 who were direct targets of gun violence last May.
Celestine Chaney, 65
Roberta Drury, 32
Andre Mackneil, 53
Katherine “Kat” Massey, 72
Margus Morrison, 52
Heyward Patterson, 67
Aaron Salter Jr., 55
Geraldine Talley, 62
Ruth Whitfield, 86
Pearl Young, 77
Terry Pegula spent some of his time during his speech at the groundbreaking for the new stadium to pay tribute to those who lost their lives during the Tops shooting last year. Terry very emotional while saying their names. He also mentioned his wife, Kim Pegula. pic.twitter.com/qZUEjnFhDG— Matt Parrino (@MattParrino) June 5, 2023
A year ago, the shooting stopped the Buffalo community, which then rallied together with “Choose Love” and “Stop Hate” campaigns. Players, coaches, and other team personnel stopped what they were doing and returned to Buffalo where they visited the site of the shooting, met with community members, and offered support through what was a very traumatic event — the first among a long list of hardships the city faced over the next nine months.
After reading the list of names who Pegula called heroes, he paused and added one more name that he said he cheers for every day.
“My wife Kim,” he said. “Kim, you are my favorite star.”
Kim Pegula, co-owner of both the Buffalo Bills and the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres, suffered what was for months just listed as a “medical emergency” until the Pegulas’ daughter, Jessica, penned and released a statement earlier this year detailing her mother’s emergency and confirmed that Kim Pegula had suffered a cardiac arrest that has left her struggling to regain her health.
It would seem that the owner of the NFL’s Buffalo franchise understands how important his team is to the identity of a city that is known as the “City of Good Neighbors” and how entwined with the history — and the future — of the community both his team and his family is.
“We should remember the past, but embrace the building of our future,” Pegula concluded after composing himself, and while discussing the tearing down of one building full of memories and building another that will soon be filled with new ones.