Buffalo Bills: Gabriel Davis, Matt Milano come through for young fan

Geoff Magliocchetti
Nov 24, 2019; Orchard Park, NY, USA; General view of a Buffalo Bills helmet on the field prior to the game against the Denver Broncos at New Era Field. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Two Buffalo Bills came through for young Jackson DeLude, using connections from offseason training to provide the merriest Christmas.

The Buffalo Bills have done great things on the football field this season, some of it stemming from the acts of young talents like receiver Gabriel Davis and linebacker Matt Milano. But it’s an off-field activity, an endeavor made in the sport of the holiday season, that will go down as their most impactful.

Davis and Milano came through big for Buffalo native Jackson DeLude, sending the 8-year-old fan down to their former stomping ground of Orlando, Florida for a Christmas he’ll never forget. With the pair’s assistance, Jackson and his mother Ashley not only enjoyed a visit to the Walt Disney World Resort, but Jackson received a special gift courtesy of Prosthetic & Orthotic Associates, an Orlando-based orthotics and prosthetics service connected to the gym where Davis and Milano work out during the offseason. Milano is an Orlando native, while the rookie Davis starred for the local University of Central Florida during his college days.

Jackson has grown up without fully developed legs and has used prosthetics to walk, but needed a special pair to fulfill his lifelong dream of running. Thanks to Davis and Milano, not only was Jackson able to run, but his first fast steps took place at a special locale, the Disney Hollywood Studios theme park on the WDW campus.

Milano explained that he and Davis heard about Jackson’s situation during their offseason training. When given the opportunity to help out, there was no hesitation on their part.

“The place that we worked out at during quarantine back home in Orlando does prosthetic legs, so we kind of had that connection there,” Milano said through Maddy Glab of BuffaloBills.com. “And then somebody said, ‘Hey, would you like to help this kid out, he’s from Buffalo, and fly him down to Orlando to get him his new legs?’ We said, ‘Yeah, why not.’ It was a great opportunity for him and during the holiday season, what’s better than that for his Christmas present.”

It was a bit of a personal case for Davis, who wanted to help the DeLudes in an attempt to pay it forward from his own child. The receive told Glab that growing up, he, his mother Alana, and his two siblings received assistance in times of distress. Davis was all too happy to perfectly define this season of giving.

“There’s always people that need help, and the simplest things in life can make someone’s life so much better,” Davis stated. “You never know what anybody’s going through. If I can be that person that can help them to better days, I definitely want to do it because of the people that did it for me. They made my life so much better. They helped get me to this day today. These people are having bigger struggles than I did, and they’re able to fight through it every single day. I want to be there for them and be able to help the best way I can.”

The ongoing health crisis has delayed an in-person meeting between Jackson and his two new fans, but the Bills shared video of a Zoom called they shared following his visit to Disney World. Jackson thanked the two for their generous gift, declaring his favorite Disney experience to be the Slinky Dog Dash, a roller coaster inspired by the Toy Story franchise.

“When I get back to school, I can keep up with my friends and participate in stuff,” Jackson, clad in a Bills shirt, said in the video. Davis and Milano sought a face-to-face meeting and promised to get Jackson and Ashley to Orchard Park when fans are allowed back at Bills Stadium.

“When (Davis and Milano) said they were going to help get Jackson blades, there was really no way to describe what we were feeling,” Ashley said in a report from Marcel Louis-Jacques of ESPN. “That they’re so young and already wanting to be paying it forward and helping out Jackson to be able to run again, it was amazing. Being in Disney for the first time, in his blades, in this magical place together, he’ll never forget it.”

Jackson will no doubt be tuning when the Bills (10-3) return to action on Saturday late afternoon, as they battle the Denver Broncos on the road (4:30 p.m. ET, NFL Network).

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags