Coach of NFL Buffalo Bills Raises Food Allergy Awareness

It’s always nice when an NFL head coach takes time from his busy schedule to help bring attention to food allergies. Last year the NFL had a “My Cause, My Cleats” program where players and coaches customized a pair of sneakers to bring attention to a cause. Coach Sean McDermott of the Buffalo Bills chose food allergies on behalf of his children, and eight-year old allergy-sufferer Jared Saiontz wrote to thank him. Jared had the thrill of his life when he was invited to the Bills’ training camp at St. John Fisher and met Coach McDermott as well as owner Terry Pegula and several players. Thanks Jared and Coach McDermott for bringing attention to this important cause!

Coach of NFL Buffalo Bills Raises Food Allergy Awareness

Left to right: Terry Pegula, Jared Saiontz, Sean McDermott
L-R: Terry Pegula, Jared Saiontz, Sean McDermott

By Claire Carpenter
July 27th, 2018

McDermott inspires young fan

For the NFL’s “My Cause, My Cleats” initiative last season, Bills Head Coach Sean McDermott sought to raise awareness for food allergies - a cause that hits home for him and his family. To show his support, McDermott customized his own pair of sneakers, hoping to make a difference by advancing the conversation. While he may not have known it at the time, McDermott achieved that and much more. 

For eight-year-old Jared Saiontz, who has severe food allergies and is an advocate in his community for the cause, McDermott’s message was well-received. Able to relate, Saiontz expressed his joy to his mother, Stacey. Beaming with excitement, Saiontz carefully crafted a letter to McDermott, explaining his story and expressing his thanks. 

“He was so excited,” said Stacey about her son’s reaction. “He said, ‘I want to write to him and thank him for talking about food allergy awareness’ and he was so excited. He worked a long time on his letter. It was so amazing that he [McDermott] wrote back to him. He was so excited that he brought it into his fourth grade class…”

“I was taken back honestly,” said McDermott about receiving Saiontz’s letter. “For a young man of Jared’s age to take a stand and write a letter… and good for him to stand up for a cause that’s been so close to him and that he’s been affected by – what a mature young man.”

To Saiontz’s surprise, he not only received a letter back from coach, but also got an invite to the opening practice at Bills Training Camp, presented by Connors and Ferris. Saiontz grew up as a Bills fan and has been attending camp for years, so it was an entirely different experience this time around. The youngster had one more surprise in store when he was escorted near the locker room after practice ended to meet McDermott and a few other special guests, including Bills Owner Terry Pegula, General Manager Brandon Beane and several players.

Both McDermott and the Saiontzs were equally thankful to have met and look forward to continuing to shed light on food allergies.

“It hits close to home because our children have food allergies and it wasn’t something that I knew a lot about until our children were born, so it’s something that is near and dear to my heart and a great cause,” said McDermott. I’m just happy to meet Jared. He’s a strong young man and I think together, if we continue to fight to beat this, we will at some point and that’s the whole key.”

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