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Jillian Swogier of Sanborn is going to see the Backstreet Boys after all -- thanks to a local restaurateur who was touched by a recent Buffalo News story detailing the girl's father's failed efforts to get her tickets for her 10th birthday.

Lou Billittier Jr., vice president of Chef's restaurant on Seneca Street, had four extra tickets to the Nov. 14 sold-out show at Marine Midland Arena, and was going to give them to a favored customer or friend.

Then he read the article about Stan Swogier's efforts to send Jillian to the concert, in which Swogier reflected on his daughter: "She tried to make me feel better this week. She said 'Dad, if you can't get tickets, I won't be heartbroken.' "

That comment, Billittier said, changed his mind about what to do with the extra tickets. "When I saw that and saw how badly she wanted to go, but how much she was thinking about her parents, I said to myself, you know what, this girl needs my tickets." To boot, Billittier will treat them to dinner at Chef's the night before.

Jillian, awakened Friday morning by a phone call bearing the news, shrieked, "Yessssss!" when told she and two friends would be going to the concert.

"We've encountered the scum of the earth in trying to get her these seats," said her mother, Lori Swogier. "But we always knew there were good people in Buffalo, and this just proves it."
-- Lauri Githens

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