VIA’s support from Bills Mafia
Being engaged in the community is a massive part of what we do here at VIA. With that comes a love for the Buffalo Bills. Many of our staff, clients, friends, and partners are die-hard Bills Mafia members, making the $70,000 in donations and significant media exposure from Bills Mafia, something VIA’s team will never forget.
A Unique Bills Fan
Many Buffalo sports fans have tuned to Alex LeMere’s podcast, Trainwreck Sports, but many might not know that Alex’s life is impacted every day by visual impairment.
Alex, 26, was born and raised in Western New York and described himself as “way too emotionally invested in the Buffalo Bills.”
Alex began noticing his vision loss when he was 16 and began squinting to see more clearly. “I thought it was normal.” After numerous attempts at finding a pair of glasses to fix his blurry vision, he finally found a doctor who diagnosed him with keratoconus. This rare disease alters the shape of the tissue in front of one’s corneas.
Alex had three cornea transplants: one in his right eye but two in his left. Despite this, Alex has made a name for himself in the Bills Mafia with his podcast and analysis and doesn’t plan on letting his impairment get in the way of that.
“I’m not going to stop what I’m doing, watching games, creating content. It’s just about adapting with what you have.” To make things easier on his vision, he makes larger notes and color coordinates. He keeps a large whiteboard behind his monitor to reference when he is podcasting.
Making a Difference
Last month, when Alex heard that Bills Mafia began donating to VIA, he was ecstatic.
“It makes me very happy and warms my heart what. To see Bills Mafia, go and help people like me, I never thought something like that would happen. You almost take vision for granted these days. Most people can get glasses or contacts and don’t realize that [people] can’t just do that. To go to an organization like VIA means a lot. I almost cried. I appreciate it so much.”
Here to Help
Last summer, VIA connected clients like Angela Wiggins and the Bills to start the conversation of making Highmark Stadium more accessible to individuals who are visually impaired. These include using bright paint along the staircases to seats and using higher contrasting colors and materials to use as visual guides along walls, railings, and floors. VIA hopes to continue working with stadium management on accessibility for all fans.
VIA offers tools, tips, and more to help individuals with visual impairments enjoy games. If you or a loved one have a visual impairment, here are some ways to continue enjoying watching football games at home:
- Reduce glare off a screen by positioning it away from windows or blocking the light with a shade. Additionally, specific eye lenses can shield and block out excess glare.
- Use specialized glasses to help magnify the field or television screen.
- Use audio description to narrate visual elements, graphics, and texts on the screen.