This winter, upstate New York was ravaged by a blizzard so intense that it became known as “the worst storm in a generation.” The deadly storm dumped 4 feet of snow and brought winds as high as 70 miles per hour, trapping people in their homes and cars. Despite these horrible conditions, a man named Jay Withey was able to rescue two dozen people and shelter them from the weather by breaking into a school in the area. Now, to reward him for his heroic behavior, the Buffalo Bills have given him two tickets to the Super Bowl LVII, which will take place in Arizona on February 12, 2023.
It all began on Christmas Eve, when Withey, a 27-year-old mechanic from Cheektowaga, went out into the storm to rescue a friend. Unfortunately, he ended up getting trapped himself. He pleaded for shelter at some residences, but was turned down from all of them. He took to huddling in a car with two other people who also needed help, until he realized they were running out of gas, further jeopardizing their safety. So, Withey sprung into action.
Realizing there was a school nearby, he decided to smash a window and sneak in to open the front doors. After he got the people he was inside to safety, he ventured out into the storm to look for other people who were trapped. In total, he rescued 24 people, including seniors and even two dogs. Since they all needed food and warmth, he grabbed blankets, water, and granola bars from the nurses’ office, as well as apples, juice, and cereal from the school's kitchen.
The next morning, Withey and some of the people he helped borrowed the janitor's snowblower to free their cars. The group tidied everything up before leaving, and Withey left a note apologizing for breaking in. Despite that, the police eventually responded, but the school declined to press any charges. One of the men in the group, Mario Johnson, went back to replace the granola bars they had taken and asked to pay for the window, but the school didn't take up on the offer.
The story of Withey's heroic act caught wind, making it to the news and earning praise from around the world. Among those who wanted to honor him was his local NFL team, the Buffalo Bills, which presented him with two tickets to the Super Bowl. Legendary former Bills running back Thurman Thomas was the one who delivered the surprise, and thanked Withey for what he did. “We love you. We know what you did on Christmas Eve was very heroic, and you’re our hero,” Thurman told him.
Withey just felt like he did what he had to do. “You get into to that kind of situation, you have to think about yourself, think about others. It’s just a matter of survival and just doing the right thing and being respectful,” Withey told CNN. “Buffalo is a city of good neighbors, great neighbors actually.We’re all just a big family. Everyone just sticks together and we’re resilient. You can’t put us down.”
Jay Withey, a a 27-year-old mechanic, rescued 24 people from the storm that ravaged Buffalo over Christmas by breaking into a school and giving them shelter.
To reward him for his heroic behavior, the Buffalo Bills have given him two tickets to the Super Bowl.
He rescued 24 people from their cars during the Buffalo blizzard and sheltered them in a nearby school.@ThurmanThomas, @PThomas3434, and @BCBSWNY thanked Jay Withey for his acts of heroism with two tickets to Super Bowl LVII! ❤️💙 pic.twitter.com/ftHmXcRkzZ
— Buffalo Bills (@BuffaloBills) January 13, 2023