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,” said Wilson, scheduled to be in town today for the Western New York Girls in Sports program. “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 due to health issues. The Hall of Fame owner hasn’t been to a game since a loss to the Jets on Nov. 6, 2011, when he was recovering from a broken hip. Wilson rode to the middle of the field in a golf chart before heading to his box for the game.
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 is chairwoman of the Girls in Sports event, which she founded in 2004. The Bills will host the semi-annual program in their Healthy Zone Fieldhouse, where an estimated 250 students from the Buffalo city schools will participate in clinics with about 80 volunteer coaches and athletes from around the region.
The girls, ages 9-12 from various “Closing the Gap” schools, will get interactive instruction at sports stations including soccer, golf, track, volleyball, tennis, basketball, agility, Double Dutch and Zumba.
They also get exposed to role models who give them 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 40-year history.
The 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 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 and coached the sport, said it’s not producing college scholarships that motivated her to begin the program a decade ago.
“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. The girls will go through the sports stations from 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.