SILVER CREEK - If and when former Silver Creek resident William "Bill" Sager Jr. wakes up from his coma, he will know his hometown has his back.
A prayer vigil for the 28-year-old Airman and technical sergeant will take place on Friday at 7 p.m. at the Silver Creek Central School football field. All members of the public are welcome to attend and share their heartfelt stories about Sager, or to simply show their support.
"We're hoping that the whole area, Silver Creek especially, turns out for this vigil," event co-organizer Colleen Griewisch told the OBSERVER. "We're going to have a donation jar set up there and we're asking that people bring cards or letters or anything like that, and we'll be sure Billy gets them."
Pastor Mike Leamon of the Christ Chapel Wesleyan Church will lead the vigil, with various friends and family of Sager expected to speak. Attendees are encouraged to wear green and/or place green ribbons on their homes, as green is the color of traumatic brain injury awareness and support.
In addition to the donation jar, wristbands with the phrases "Pray for Bill" and "Sager Strong" should be available for $5 each, with all proceeds benefiting Sager's family. T-shirts that read "Keep calm and #PrayforBill" are also being sold to raise funds for Sager's medical bills and everyday expenses, including a mortgage. Those interested can purchase one for $20 at www.booster.com/billsager1.
"We would like to see people also make signs because someone will be there taking pictures so that Billy can see them someday," Griewisch said. "He will know his whole community is behind him; we want him to know we're there for him, hoping and praying for him."
What: Prayer vigil for hometown hero Bill Sager
When: Friday at 7 p.m.
Where: Silver Creek Central football field
Griewisch added she knew Sager during his childhood, as they both lived on Lincoln Avenue in Silver Creek. Her son, Brandyn, is Sager's childhood friend; he helped organize the vigil with Colleen.
"Billy was just an all-around awesome kid who didn't deserve this one bit," Colleen said. "And I just hope we, as a community, all pull together, and that Billy recovers and gets well quickly."
The vigil will take place rain or shine on Friday. Flyers created by Silver Creek resident Susi Prince-Rivera are being distributed throughout the area to inform and remind people to show their support at the event.
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 reportedly being assaulted and pushed down a flight of stairs at Molly's Pub in Buffalo's University District on May 11, striking his head and suffering a traumatic brain injury. The pub has since been shut down.
"The last update I got, and this was a couple weeks ago, but the doctors did a couple tests and Billy could feel a sense of pain," Griewisch said. "That's a good thing!"
The pub's manager, Jeffrey Basil, 35, was arrested in connection to the incident. Basil is a convicted felon.
In addition, two Buffalo Police officers remain on unpaid leave after allegedly working security while off-duty at the pub that night.
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