Bills Make me Wanna Hope: Diehard Bills fan reflects on team, feels inspired by team’s success

Local News

NORTH TONAWANDA, N.Y. (WIVB)– As the Bills prepare for their big matchup against the Colts Saturday, one Bills fan is especially excited to get in the stands.

A North Tonawanda superfan says the Bills have given him hope during a time we could all use a little bit more of that.

Mike Hanavan showed us what his North Tonawanda patio looks like in the summertime.

He said, “I got hall of fame pictures, I was at the Jim Kelly’s Hall of Fame induction.”

It’s a Bills oasis, covered in items he’s collected over the past 6 decades.

Hanavan said he has a family connection to the Bills too, “my uncle Rosie Ryan was the head groundskeeper at the old Rockpile.”

Hanavan started going to games regularly with his dad at War Memorial Stadium when he was just seven years old.

“My uncle used to take me into the locker room and I’d get chin straps and all that stuff… one game against the Chiefs, I went into the locker room and out I came on Tommy Day’s shoulders and out onto the field. At 7 years old that kind of hooks ya.”

Mike Hanavan

Since 1965 Hanavan has only missed one home game. He says an out-of-town wedding can be blamed for that.

And when you’re a fan for that long, you start to get game-day rituals. Mike has plenty of them.

Hanavan says he, “Always get up in the morning, big breakfast, four fried eggs, corned beef hash, two pieces of rye toast.”

He blasts Genesis, his favorite band. He calls some people. And then heads out to Orchard Park with his son Patrick to root for the team he’s never given up on.

He says, “I don’t holler as loud as I used to, but I still holler.”

The yelling has gotten more difficult for mike because, for the past 15 years, he’s fought through a rare disease.

“I got a neuromuscular disease, progressive, no treatment, no cure. It’s called Kennedy’s Disease. It’s the cousin of ALS.”

Mike Hanavan

His muscles are slowly weakening over time and for the past 10 months, he’s been mainly confined to his home, nervous to contract COVID-19.

But you won’t find him looking for sympathy or complaining, he’s just thankful to have a team that he can look forward to watching week in and week out. Thankful he’ll be one of just 6,200 fans in these stands come Saturday.

He says, “I gotta say, this could quite possibly be the best team they’ve ever fielded.”

Hanavan says some of his best memories have been in this stadium.

He’s spent nearly his whole life rooting for this team.

A team that’s bringing a bright light to many during these dark times.

“It gives you drive to continue on, they’ve overcome problems…”

“They’re playing hard, coaching hard and I’m still rooting hard.”

Mike Hanavan

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