Bills superfan’s dying wish inspires $100K boon for Buffalo charity
Buffalo Bills superfan Ezra Castro, better known as “Pancho Billa,” passed away in May at the young age of 39 following a battle with cancer. Castro’s dying wish to generate awareness for a Buffalo-based charity inspired an outpouring of support from the Bills Mafia — the name adopted by loyal fans of the team — that led to a boon for the charity.
Bills fan John Mika recently revealed how Castro used his passing to create awareness for The Teacher’s Desk, a nonprofit charity that supplies children and their schools with much-needed supplies.
Mika was contacted the day after Castro’s death and learned how “Pancho Billa” wanted to help the charity. Little did Mika know at the time that the Bills superfan’s final wish would generate over $100,000 in new donations.
Every Panchospack has this tag affixed to it, letting kids know why they are receiving a backpack filled with supplies. Thank you @biondoart #billsmafia & #allsafetechnologies pic.twitter.com/SdRbhe8H2N— The Teacher's Desk (@TeachersDeskBuf) June 10, 2019
The charity’s main directive is supplying backpacks loaded with school supplies to students in need. A $10 donation yields a backpack filled with donated supplies valued at $100.
“I’m thinking it’s going to be just a little bit [of donations in Castro’s memory],” Mika said, via ESPN’s Mike Rodak. “Just a few hundred dollars — a hundred backpacks, or whatever.”
Since the drive initiated by Castro’s wishes began, The Teacher’s Desk has been inundated with donations. The $100,000 will be used to assemble more than 10,000 backpacks with supplies valued in excess of $1 million.
Ready, set, pack… 6…#PanchosPack stations are ready for a miracle on Monday. Thank you volunteers for all you do. We are absolutely blessed at the Desk.#billsmafia #theteachersdesk pic.twitter.com/c3qU3KhqNH— The Teacher's Desk (@TeachersDeskBuf) June 8, 2019
Several Bills players, including linebacker Lorenzo Alexander, long-snapper Reid Ferguson, offensive tackle Dion Dawkins and kicker Stephen Hauschka are assisting The Teacher’s Desk in the Pancho Billa-inspired drive.
Welcomed @stephenhauschka4 and @harrisonphillips99 this morning as we prepare for #Panchospack @buffalobills #BillsHuddlefor100 pic.twitter.com/l6XXtOJX8u— The Teacher's Desk (@TeachersDeskBuf) June 10, 2019
“They called him a Bills superfan, but in my book, he’s a superfan of education,” Mika said. “There’s all kinds of folks wanting to be involved now. You combine integrity — which is what we live here for — education, and now you combine it with people who are crazy for sports. To me, it’s incredible. It’s a miracle.”