(WIVB) — There are so many ways Bills Mafia is showing their love for the team. Besides all of the generous donations for important causes, breaking tables is probably number one.
And that’s exactly what a Tennessee man did on Thursday. He jumped through a folding table, but for a really good reason. It was his way to celebrate beating cancer. Victor Neilson struts his stuff through the tunnel to the big gold bell.
In his Tremaine Edmunds jersey and fashionable Zubaz sweats, he’s on to the next journey. And right now, you might be thinking he’s leaving the treatment center and heading home. But this guy is a member of Bills Mafia. He’s got another celebration in store.
Victor learned to love the Bills while being raised in Pendleton. The western New York native moved to Indiana when he was 6-years-old. But once Bills blue is in your blood, you just can’t get rid of it.
“I grew up with my dad watching as many bills games as we could in Indiana. Luckily they were good so we were able to see many of them.”
Watching the Bills success this season has helped Victor in his fight with cancer. Ironically enough, he began that fight when the Bills began theirs in September.
“It’s Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, treatable through chemotherapy. Luckily it was an aggressive cancer which takes on chemotherapy rather aggressively.”
Victor has endured chemotherapy once every three weeks, for five days straight. He feels lucky because he’s had minimal side effects. The worst; lack of energy and mouth sores.
“I was actually the first out of Vanderbilt oncology to be able to come and get my treatment, get a new bag, and come home. Otherwise, I’d have to stay five days in the hospital in order to receive that chemotherapy cocktail, I guess as you would call it.”
The ability to receive treatment at home was a blessing. It allowed him to grow closer with his family as they cheered on the Bills.
“It’s been a lot of tears, a lot of happy tears. It’s fun because my son is 12. He hasn’t seen any of it right? We’ve missed a whole generation. A whole generation hasn’t been able to see the success.”
The team’s success gave his wife an idea. Instead of just driving home after ringing the bell, head outside, throw on a Bills helmet and do what any member of Bills Mafia would do after the biggest fight of their life. Victor might just be the greatest table-breaker of all time. The video has been viewed more than a million times on social media since being posted Friday afternoon. His grit and determination mirror’s the team’s devotion to the game this season.
And this folding table, symbolic of his victory, that only the Mafia would understand.
“All I cared about to be honest was inspiring, 1, 2, 3 people to say you can do this too, to just keep fighting and keep going.”
He’s received thousands of messages on social media from people around the world, which has left him humbled.
“For all the hate and how bad this world is right now, to see the love and compassion and people reaching out, it brings tears to people’s eyes. It’s bringing tears to my eyes, it’s wonderful ya know?”
Below, find a link to Victor’s fundraiser for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
Melanie Orlins is an anchor and reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2017. See more of her work here.