RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — For nearly 20 years, a Raleigh restaurant has continued to bring a group together to share a common love.
For Buffalo Bills fans, the restaurant named Buffalo Brothers on Capital Boulevard has evolved into a home for many. Game after game, week after week, fans say they continue to come back to cheer on their team.
“We tailgate together, we socialize together, we hang out together… we’re a family,” said Katherine Bucher during Sunday’s game. Bucher, an organizer of the Buffalo Bills Backers of Raleigh/ Durham, said every game brings back fans to the restaurant with the same level of excitement.
Angela Clarke, who grew up in Buffalo, said the group has become like family.
“I’ve seen every family here, their kids grow up… It’s a family event for us and every week we come here,” Clarke said.
Clarke said the group became a support system for her after moving to Raleigh. Clarke said the support that’s helped her has only intensified after fans watched the terrifying moment Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin’s heart stopped during the Monday night game against the Cincinnati Bengals.
“The whole bar was quiet, no one knew what was going on… we were all just staring at the screen waiting for someone to say something,” said Allison Pike who recalled the moment when the NFL star collapsed on the field.
Pike and others said they left the restaurant that night filled with many emotions — as well as concern.
Since then, the group said they continued to show support for Hamlin and his team with hope and prayers. Some said they even supported Hamlin’s foundation to provide toys for children in need which has now raised more the $8 million.
Hamlin’s injury didn’t just bring Bills fans closer, but people said it also created a sense of unity among all NFL fans and teams.
Watching Hamlin’s posts on social media and daily recovery has given many of the fans hope.
Bucher said the NFL star has a long road ahead of him.
“The improvement has really been wonderful, just to see how well he’s progressed. We pray for continued healing for him,” Bucher said.
Bucher and others shared their excitement not just for Hamlin’s improvement, but also for the team’s win on Sunday. The group signed a card they hope to send to Hamlin with words of support and encouragement.
Michelle Wilhelm who also attended, added, “Everyone is just so happy that we’re scoring, we’re going to win this game and we’re winning it for him.”