Buffalo Bills fans help give a Colts fan a birthday to remember

(Photo by Michael Adamucci/Getty Images)
(Photo by Michael Adamucci/Getty Images) /

Buffalo Bills fans responded to and shared a tweet that led to one Indianapolis Colts fan receiving a birthday surprise to remember.

There are times when social media can be used to bring great joy into one’s life. That may be hard to believe when seeing all the hot takes on Twitter, but a recent moment reminded us of the positive power of connecting with others online.

Buffalo Bills fans are a vocal bunch on Twitter, always supporting the team and keeping tabs on all the news 24/7/365. Bills fans helped get superfan Pancho Billa to the NFL Draft and recently helped give a Colts fan a special birthday surprise.

It was started with a tweet from @DanyelReneeBB:

Danyel is a passionate Bills fan and right away the tweet gained traction. So much so, this happened:

That in itself is awesome and is something that happened thanks to that initial tweet blowing up. But then this happened:

A personal message from Jim Irsay. That is amazing and it is so cool to see social media be the reason for such a great birthday surprise.

To learn more about the situation we caught up with Danyel and asked her a few questions.

1. What did the happy birthday messages from Jim Irsay and the Colts mean to your brother?

Danyel: My brother, Jared, was born on June 20, 1994 at 5:35 PM. Being almost 10 years apart, I remember that day clearly. At the age of five, he was diagnosed with a neurological disease called Neurofibromatosis Type 1 and his brain scan revealed a large inoperable brain tumor.

He was also diagnosed with Asperger’s, which is an Autism Spectrum Disorder, and ADHD and needed several surgeries on his eyes and legs to correct abnormalities.

He started chemo and spent many days at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and was also part of Make A Wish as his doctors believed his prognosis to be poor with the type of tumor he has. They told our family that he wouldn’t live past the age of 15. On June 20, 2018, my brother turned 24. He will also be graduating in August with a Criminal Justice degree.

Now that I gave you a little backstory, I have to tell you that growing up in a household where my father and I were Bills fans and my mom was a Packers fan, we expected my brother to pick a side and that would be that. Not my brother though. He’s unique in every sense of the word and completely became amazed by Peyton Manning at around the age of six or so. He’s been a Colts fan ever since. His whole room is decked out in Colts memorabilia, he has a few Colts tattoos and he can recite stats and plays like no other.

He’s never been to an NFL game but is just as happy watching the games on his big screen, calling me every other play to tell me how amazing Andrew Luck or T.Y. Hilton are. When he received the Happy Birthday from the Colts and then the personal message from Jim Irsay, he was beyond ecstatic.

These simple gestures felt like a dream come true to him and he was beside himself that people with such busy lives would take the time out to greet him like that. More importantly, he was extremely grateful to all of the fans and websites that helped the whole thing come to fruition.

I remember before anything happened, he said to me, “Honestly, even if nothing happens, the fact that so many people came together to try to make my birthday special when they don’t even know me, that’s enough for me. My birthday has already been made and I can’t say I’ve ever had a nicer birthday.” We both had tears in our eyes.

The social media manager for the Colts also messaged me about an hour after it began asking for his address because she is also sending him something. The whole thing has been amazing.

2. What was your initial reaction when you realized he received a DM from Irsay?

Danyel: All day yesterday, my brother and I were on the phone with each other on and off. He kept calling me to update me on all of the incredible well wishes he was receiving even though I could also see them from my own Twitter account.

At one point, he had just hung up with me when about three minutes later I received another call from him. This time he was screaming and in utter disbelief. “DANYEL! JIM IRSAY JUST MESSAGED ME PRIVATELY!” he yelled into the phone. I had to make him slow down so I could understand but then he took a screenshot and sent it to me.

We were both stunned. Someone that has almost half a million followers and that is extremely busy owning a football team actually took the time out to wish him a Happy Birthday and it was all because of people retweeting my tweet and tweeting at him. We are both so touched by the kindness of Jim Irsay, the Colts organization and everyone who helped me get the word out.

3. How did being a member of Bills Mafia help get the word out?

Danyel: As you know, BillsMafia is more than just a bunch of fans. It’s a family and they’ve proven that time and again throughout the years. Look no further than all the contributions made to Andy Dalton’s charity back in December or the support they gave Darryl Talley during hard times.

As soon as I tweeted about my brother and tagged BillsMafia in it, my tweet completely took off. Bills fans who didn’t even follow me were sharing and more than that, they were sending my brother well wishes on his birthday personally. It was such a special moment for him. I find it incredible that our fans can look past perhaps an AFC rivalry and understand that the true meaning in life is loving one another and helping when you can.

I don’t believe this whole thing would have taken place if it hadn’t been for my Bills family and the kindness they showed me and my brother. Of course other fans of other teams took action, so I need to thank them as well. However, it was BillsMafia that truly kicked the whole thing off.

4. What is the trash talk like when the Bills play the Colts?

Danyel: Trash talk is always a fun time in our family. Since the Bills and Colts are both AFC, we are constantly taking digs at each other and proclaiming our team to be the best of the best. At one time, we were in a heated debate because I would tease him and say that Sammy Watkins was better than T.Y. Hilton. It was probably a little misguided but I have to be a homer when it comes to arguing with my brother about our teams.

It got so bad that when we would play Xbox together, we would join lobbies just to get people’s opinions on it! He also always teased me about the playoff drought (which he can’t do anymore!) and the fact that we never have a good quarterback. He doesn’t remember the 90s like I do so I can’t even use that to back-up the Bills.

A few years ago, the Colts played the Bills in the home opener. We ordered a bunch of wings and watched together. Since the Bills won, I trash talked pretty hardcore during the game and he actually didn’t talk to me for a few days after!

5. What is your prediction for how the Bills will do in 2018?

Danyel: It’s tough to make a prediction for the Bills because there are so many unknowns going into the season, especially at quarterback. However, as we all have learned from last year, Sean McDermott doesn’t believe in tanking and gets the most out of his players every single game. Our defense should be a great deal improved from last year and I think, no matter who is quarterback, they will win some games for us.

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I get that they have a tough first half schedule with all of the road games, but I can see them winning a few of those. I can see the Bills racking up 8-10 wins and narrowly missing the playoffs. Our offense can’t really be much worse than it was last year and our defense should be better. It may be another surprising year!