The Buffalo Bills have rewarded a local hero with Super Bowl tickets.
In a video released Friday, the Bills had former MVP Thurman Thomas and his wife Patti surprise Jay Withey at his place of work to present him with two oversize tickets and thank him for his actions last Christmas Eve that saved two dozen people from a deadly blizzard in Buffalo.
Withey's story started spreading late last month when police in Cheektowaga, New York, posted surveillance pictures of him and a note explaining that he had broken a window of a school to save himself from the blizzard after spending a night in his truck with two strangers to stay alive.
Once inside, Withey went out to look for others in need of help and eventually gathered 24 other people in the school, which had heating, food and bathrooms. The group included seven elderly people stranded in their cars by the snow.
To whomever it may concern,
I'm terribly sorry about breaking the school window and for breaking in the kitchen. Got stuck at 8 p.m. Friday and slept in my truck with two strangers just trying not to die. There were seven elderly people also stuck and out of fuel. I had to do it to save everyone and get them shelter and food and a bathroom. Merry Christmas.
Police asked for help to find "Merry Christmas Jay," and soon identified him.
Withey's gift from the Bills is only the latest recognition he has received in the aftermath of a blizzard estimated to have killed 44 people as of last week. The story quickly went viral, and Withey acknowledged its spread during his visit from the Bills.
"I got thank-you letters from Australia," Withey said. "I can't believe how far it got. It was wild."
Now the Bills can only hope they'll be able to meet Withey in Arizona. The team is scheduled to begin its playoff run on Sunday at 1 p.m. ET with a wild-card game against the Miami Dolphins.