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Ralph shooting for home opener

Mary Wilson, the wife of Bills owner Ralph Wilson, said Friday that her husband is doing well and is hoping to attend the team's home opener in September.

"He's doing really well," she said. "He's great. Today is Friday, so he's going to work out with his trainer. Our goal is Opening Day. Ralph wants to make the home opener."

Ralph Wilson, 94, did not attend any games last season because of health issues. The date of the Bills' home opener has not been announced. The NFL's regular-season schedule is expected to be released on Tuesday.

Mary Wilson will be in town Saturday for the Western New York Girls in Sports program, which she founded in 2004. The Bills will host the annual event in their fieldhouse, where an estimated 250 students from the Buffalo city schools will participate in clinics from more than 100 volunteer coaches from around the region.

The girls will also get tips on life and sports. The program's stated goal is to empower, educate and motivate young girls through sports participation, learning  life skills, sportsmanship, and awareness of Title IX and its history. The WNY Girls in Sports Clinic is hosted in partnership with the United Way of Buffalo and Erie County, Buffalo Public  Schools and the Girl Scout Council of WNY. Coaches from the area colleges contribute as well.

 "I'm really excited to come to Buffalo," said Mrs. Wilson, who has earned numerous awards for the program. "I'm excited about our goal. Our participation has been amazing. They experience a lot of different sports."

She said the girls in the city face unusual challenges, everything from mentors to equipment to transportation. The Buffalo city schools don't turn out many college athletes as a result. But Wilson, who was the top-ranked tennis player in the country at age 60, said it's not producing college scholarships that drives her.

"My passion is kids participating, not about great athletes," she said. "I've played tennis my whole life. It's about playing a lot of sports and learning from the sport. I really think it has to start in the elementary schools. I want people to know the Buffalo Bills are interested in girls and sports. How many of our fans are women?"

The Girls in Sports program comes to One Bills Drive twice a year, during the middle of autumn and again in the spring. Girls who participate receive backpacks and box lunches.



Ralph Wilson, 94, did not attend any games last season because of health issues. (Derek Gee/News file photo)


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