SILVER CREEK - Don't give up the fight and continue showing support and courage while pursuing justice.
That was the message Friday evening at Silver Creek Central School's football field where a prayer vigil was held for William "Bill" Sager Jr., who remains in a coma after an incident at Molly's Pub in Buffalo on May 11.
Approximately 150 people gathered at the 29-yard line to honor and pray for Bill, who wore No. 29 during his playing days for the Silver Creek Black Knights..
OBSERVER Photos by Jeremy Izzio
Friends, family and community members bow their heads in silent prayer at Friday's prayer vigil for William “Bill” Sager Jr. held at the Silver Creek Central School football field.
OBSERVER Photo by Jeremy Izzio
Twenty-eight balloons were released at Friday's prayer vigil in honor of William 'Bill' Sager Jr. who is 28 years old. Sager, who was stationed at the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station and served overseas in Afghanistan, remains in a coma at the Erie County Medical Center after an incident at Molly's Pub in Buffalo.
"It has been tremendous between Silver Creek, Fredonia, the air base and total strangers from around the country coming up to us," said Bill's father, William C. Sager Sr. "All the doctors, nurses and staff have been amazing. They have been great through everything. We have been getting cards, letters and prayers from all over the country."
"There have been letters, religious medals, prayer cards and people sharing their own miracle stories of people who have been in pretty rough shape and made it through," said Bill's stepmother, Crystal Sager. "They just keep telling us not to lose hope. That's what we are hanging onto. It's very overwhelming to say the least. Who knew it would be this large; it says a lot about Bill."
Brandyn Griewisch, a lifelong friend of Bill, took it upon himself to organize the event and opened the vigil with a few words of support before handing off the microphone to Pastor Mike Leamon of the Christ Chapel Wesleyan Church.
Pastor Leamon led those in attendance in a prayer and spoke of the strength and support it takes in times of tragedy.
Following Pastor Leamon was Bill's best friend, Chris Postle, who told light-hearted stories of their youth and continued the message of never giving up.
Silver Creek football coach Sean Helmer also spoke on Bill's behalf before Pastor Leamon finished with a silent prayer.
Bookending the event was the releasing of 28 balloons by Bill's close friends and family in celebration of the 28 years Bill has spent touching the lives of those around him.
"Family has to help family and friends have to help friends," said Jeff Griewisch, whose son organized the event. "Silver Creek is a small town and when the tough hits, the tough people come together. That's what you're seeing here today. It's one big happy family in the village and you just have to be there for each other. It doesn't matter who the family is; when you see stuff like this it is just so heartwarming."
"I received a lot of input from the community, and seeing as how I was such a good friend with Bill when we were younger, I just suggested (the prayer vigil) through word of mouth," Brandyn Griewisch said. "It was the least I could do. He would have done the same thing for me. I've always been good friends with his family and most of his other friends so I figured the best thing I could do was to bring everyone together and tell them to keep fighting."
On Aug. 3, from 1-6 p.m. at the Grand Island VFW, there will be a benefit to support Bill and his family. Anyone interested in lending a hand or showing support is welcome.
Also, an event is being planned for Sept. 13 at the Silver Creek VFW. More information regarding this event will be made available as the date approaches.