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Tyrod Taylor's Buffalo legacy includes advocacy for blind and visually impaired

Tyrod Taylor's last day with the Bills will likely be Wednesday when his trade to the Cleveland Browns is finalized.

In his three years in Buffalo, he has served in the community and has been an advocate for the blind and visually impaired. That led to a partnership with the Olmsted Center for Sight, a not-for-profit agency whose mission is to help people who are blind, visually impaired or physically disabled achieve their highest level of personal and professional independence.

As Taylor's football future shifts to Cleveland, The Buffalo News reached out to the Olmsted Center for the organization's thoughts on its relationship with him. Here is a message from Brooke Kibrick, the marketing and events coordinator:

Two years ago I received a call out of the blue from the Buffalo Bills informing us that Tyrod Taylor was participating in “My Cause My Cleats” and chose the Olmsted Center for Sight (OCS) to be his charity of choice. “My Cause My Cleats” is an NFL initiative aimed at raising awareness for non-profit organizations whose work is important to the players. Tyrod was going to wear cleats with our logo in support of the Olmsted Center for Sight. Needless to say, I was jumping up and down in my office! It’s rare that you get a call like that, so we were very honored and excited to start a partnership with Tyrod. I asked why he chose to support OCS; the response from the Buffalo Bills representative was that's Tyrod's cousin, Anthony, lost his sight in high school, and the cause was close to his heart.

After that phone call, we closely followed the Week 13 game of the 2016 season, and got to see Tyrod proudly showcase the Olmsted Center for Sight name on his cleats and show his support for our agency and the blind and visually impaired clients that we help every day. After the game, Tyrod gave his cleats to Anthony, which speaks to his love of family and of showing his support for his cousin and others who are blind and visually impaired.

At the end of the 2016-17 season, we had the chance to have Tyrod come to OCS for a tour. He was able to see our agency and meet some of our blind students and staff. We also had Tyrod do a blindness simulation by putting on a blindfold and walking with a white cane. We often do this with people who visit the agency – it puts them in the shoes of someone who is totally blind and what they experience every day. He was a great sport about it and accepted the challenge with a smile.

Tyrod also was shown how people who are blind use a computer using screen reading software called JAWS (Job Access With Speech). Ray Zylinski, and Olmsted employee who has been blind since he was 2 years old and who has been a Bills' season ticket holder for his entire life,  was able to demonstrate JAWS for Tyrod. JAWS reads the computer screen with a voice that guides the user through the page –- the more experienced the user, the faster the voice is. When Ray turned the speed of the voice up to the speed he listens to the computer at, Tyrod jumped back in shock and awe and said, "No way! Oh my gosh, that is amazing. And my teammates think I talk fast in the huddle. That is crazy!!”

Also during his visit he donated a number of signed items for our agency to use at our annual fundraising event “Dining in the Dark” – which is in September. His signed items were placed in our silent auction at the event and helped raised funds for our blind and visually impaired children and adult clients.

Fast forward to the 2017-18 season and I got a call from one of his representatives that he had again chosen the Olmsted Center for Sight for “My Cause, My Cleats” and he would have our name and logo on his cleats in addition to his cousin’s initials! We of course were again thrilled to have him represent OCS!

Tyrod Taylor's cleats for the NFL's "My Cause, My Cleats" event featured the Olmsted Center.

The next thing we knew, the Bills were going to the playoffs for the first time in 17 years and everyone was Tyrod Taylor crazy! And during the excitement, the Andy & Jordan Dalton Foundation was getting donations from Bills fans as a “thank you” for allowing us to get to the playoffs.

In addition, because of Tyrod’s connection to OCS, we started receiving donations from fans in the amount of $17, and even more in honor of Tyrod Taylor for breaking the curse! People were sending awesome messages along with their donation and we were sharing them on social media. We had more than people donate to Olmsted, and they also started following us on social media. The response was fantastic and we were again thankful for having Tyrod be a part of our mission. News Channel 4 also came out and did a story on the ripple effect of the Dalton Foundation donations (video).

And even after it was announced that Tyrod would be traded to the Browns, we again started to receive donations in honor of Tyrod from Bills fans showing their support for his time here in Buffalo, and for the accomplishments he had on and off the field. We thanked him again on social media for being a part of the Olmsted Center for Sight family – and in true fashion of the standup guy that Tyrod is – he replied and thanked us for what we do.


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