John R. Oishei Children's Hospital photo

On Tuesday, November 28, patients, families and care providers celebrated the first tree lighting ceremony at the new John R. Oishei Children’s Hospital. The event marked the beginning of the holiday season as many gathered to view the illumination of the towering evergreen trees outside Oishei Children’s Hospital.

“The annual tree lighting is an opportunity for the hospital community to come together to celebrate the holiday season,” said Allegra C. Jaros, MBA, President at John R. Oishei Children’s Hospital. “This year’s event is particularly meaningful as it signifies the beginning of the longstanding tradition at the new Oishei Children’s Hospital.”

Patients and families of the Stone’s Buddies program enjoyed their annual holiday party in the lobby, participating in various arts and crafts and holiday-inspired activities with help from Buffalo Bills players who were in attendance. Tops Friendly Markets, an event sponsor, also generously donated gingerbread houses for the kids to decorate in the New Era Cap Pavilion. Jena Abati and the choir from the Music Academy of Western New York were on-hand singing holiday favorites for event-goers as they enjoyed hot chocolate and cookies. Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus even made an appearance greeting kids and taking photos.

At the event, Allegra C. Jaros, President, Oishei Children’s Hospital announced “Bills Bandwagon,” a new patient-centered hospital initiative in partnership with the Buffalo Bills Foundation. During future visits to Oishei Children’s Hospital, Buffalo Bills players will hand out team merchandise to pediatric patients from a “Buffalo Bills Bandwagon” branded wagon.

“The results of the partnership between Oishei Children’s Hospital and the Buffalo Bills Foundation will positively impact the lives of children in our care facing challenges due to illness,” said Allegra C. Jaros, President of Oishei Children’s Hospital. Gretchen Geitter, President of the Buffalo Bills Foundation, echoed the sentiment saying, “The Buffalo Bills Foundation is proud to fund the Buffalo Bills Bandwagon. Through this program, we hope to bring some fun and respite to patients during their hospital stays.”

Allegra C. Jaros, Gretchen Geitter and Buffalo Bills players invited a pediatric hospital patient and member of the Stone’s Buddies program to unveil the Buffalo Bills Bandwagon and light the trees. Patients and staff who were unable to join the festivities outside were given flashlights to illuminate as the exterior trees were lit with brilliant white and multi-colored bulbs and festive decorations.