BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — The Buffalo Bisons were back on the field Friday night in downtown Buffalo and the team honored a special hero on Marvel’s Defenders of the Diamond Night.
Jay Withey, also known as ‘Merry Christmas, Jay’ saved 24 people from the brutal Christmas Blizzard in Cheektowaga. On Friday night, he threw out the first pitch at the Bisons game in honor of his heroic actions during the storm.
“What better way than to have a real life superhero,” Bisons assistant general manager Brad Bisbing said. “He embodied everything that is great about this area. We talk about the city of good neighbors. There wasn’t much of a better neighbor than him during the Christmas storm.”
As the saying goes, not all heroes wear capes. The Buffalo Bisons celebrated all things Marvel on and honored Withey whose heroic actions saved two dozen lives on during the Blizzard.
“I got a call from a friend that was stuck with his dog and his girlfriend in his car. So I left my house in Kenmore and drove there and got stuck,” Withey said.
On the way, he picked up someone who was stranded outside, before he got stuck himself in Cheektowaga. He never made it to his friends, but he helped as many people as he could, bringing them into a Cheektowaga school building to ride out the storm. He penned a short letter apologizing for breaking the window, signing it ‘Merry Christmas, Jay. But he says he isn’t a hero. When asked if he considers himself a hero, he was quick to reply.
“No, I hope anyone in my situation would’ve done the same thing,” Withey said.
Buffalonians always band together in times of great need. Withey hopes his story will inspire others to do small acts of kindness for strangers, helping the community one day at a time.
“We try to make this a ballpark that celebrates everything that’s great about Buffalo whether it’s the food, it’s the fellow sports teams and most importantly it’s the people,” Bisbing added.
“We are the city of great neighbors so just even a smile, something small, means the world,” Withey continued. “Be a helping hand to whoever you can be. If you’re able, you have a moral and ethical duty to be of service, so if you can do.”
This is not the first time Withey has been honored for his heroic actions. Mayor Byron Brown and Governor Kathy Hochul awarded him a medal of public service and the Buffalo Bills, Thurman & Patti Thomas and Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield gave him tickets to Super Bowl LVII.
A heroic story fit for a Marvel movie.
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Tara Lynch is a Buffalo native who joined the News 4 team as a reporter in 2022. She previously worked at WETM in Elmira, N.Y., a sister station of News 4. You can follow Tara on Facebook and Twitter and find more of her work here.