Photography by: News 4 Chief Photographer, Chris Broadbent and Danylo Paszkowsky. Editing by: Chris Broadbent
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WIVB) — Josh Allen has a lot of people cheering for him, but not just because of his job. His community work, demeanor and attitude shows who he is beyond the field.
The Bills quarterback sat down with News 4’s Kelsey Anderson to talk about his charitable work around WNY, how his upbringing has influenced him today, and more.
When you see Josh Allen, look at his wrist. You’ll notice a blue and white bracelet that says ‘NEGU.’ He hasn’t taken it off in over a year. ‘NEGU’ stands for Never Ever Give Up, and the bracelet was given to him by a boy named Cade Spinello, otherwise known as ‘Super Cade.’
“When Cade was younger, he had a tumor on his optic nerves, but he also had a stroke,” Allen said in this Beyond the Blue and Red video.
That stroke caused paralysis to one side of Cade’s body, forcing him to play football with one hand. But it doesn’t stop him from partaking in the game he loves. And last year, Allen invited Cade to inspire his fellow Bills teammates. He also gave him the full Buffalo experience, taking him to a Sabres and Bills game, Bills practices and more. It was the moment Buffalo realized how big Allen’s heart is. Allen said it was the moment he realized how much he enjoys helping kids.
“Just the energy he brings to everyone around him is just infectious,” Allen said about his friend, Cade.
Once a month, Josh visits kids at Oishei Children’s Hospital. He chose the hospital because he enjoys working with kids, and he’s also felt the impact of the hard work of pediatric doctors and nurses.
“My brother was diagnosed with Kawasaki Disease, which is a rare heart condition, when he was maybe five or six years old,” he said.
He even created a hat with the kids, along with New Era, which quickly sold out. All the proceeds go to the hospital.
“To be able to be in the position, I can go to the hospital and cheer up a kid that may be having a bad day, and I can just walk in there and bring a smile to their face, that joy that it gives me makes me feel fantastic, but in that moment, feels great too.”
And when Allen hears about kids who need an extra pick-me-up, he’ll invite them to a game. He does that every two to three games.
Josh said he just likes making people happy, and that goes back to his roots, growing up in a small farming town in California.
“The community I’m from, it’s very tight-knit,” he said. “Everybody cares about each other, when something bad happens, everybody in the town rallies around that one person.”
He watched his dad work hard on the family farm in Firebaugh, CA and provide for the family.
“My dad was my biggest role model,” he said. “He’s one of the greatest men I’ve ever met and if I can be half the man he is, I think I’m doing pretty good.”
Allen said he doesn’t like the glitz and glam, and was hoping Buffalo would choose him in the 2018 draft. He’s already bought a house here, and said the city feels like home.
“I get to talk to some of the guys who come from other places and it’s just not the same everywhere else. We should be lucky to have what we have here.”
But getting to the NFL wasn’t the easiest for Allen. He fought to make it into a D1 football program. He remembers spending hours in a computer lab at the junior college he attended (Reedley College) crafting up letters to hundreds of head coaches around the country, begging for a chance to get seen. Wyoming would be the college that gave him a shot.
“Yeah I still have a chip on my shoulder because of it,” he said. “Being told that, ‘you’re not good enough and you can’t do this, and we like somebody else,’ it puts a little more fuel in my fire.”
He said he wants this so bad, and that’s what makes him a better quarterback and leader.
And just like Super Cade, Allen inspires people around him to ‘Never Ever Give Up.’ During the Bills’ bye week, Allen visited a local high school football game, inspiring the young athletes at Alden High School and Burgard High School, to stay with the game and continue to follow their dreams.
“The memories that you make in high school on Friday night, there’s nothing like it.”
So with extra fuel in his fire, and ‘NEGU’ in his heart, Josh Allen said he’s in it for the long haul here in Buffalo.
“I can say a ton of great things about why I love Buffalo, and I don’t think I could find one why I don’t,” he said. “I’m going to put my heart and soul into this organization and to the game of football, and try to be as good of a person I can off the field.”