The Buffalo Bills are the latest to honor an Erie County man who saved 26 lives during the winter storm that blanketed Western New York over Christmas.

On Christmas Eve, 27-year-old mechanic Jay Withey broke into a school as temperatures plummeted below freezing to get an elderly woman and young man to safety after all three were stranded in the snow. Instead of waiting inside where it was warm, Withey took the school’s snow blower and dug out other stranded motorists so they could get inside, too.

Security camera footage of Jay Withey
Cheektowaga Police

By Christmas Day, 24 people and 2 dogs had taken shelter because of Jay, while crews cleared away more than four feet of snow. Police tracked "Merry Christmas Jay" down after the incident from school security footage and a note he left behind apologizing for breaking a window to get in to reward him for his life-saving efforts. Now Withey’s received another amazing surprise.

A note left by Jay Withey, who broke into a New York school during the Christmas blizzard.
Cheektowaga Police

While the Buffalo Bills won’t be playing in the Super Bowl this year, they do have tickets. They sent Withey a pair for the February 12th showdown in Glendale, Arizona with a very special messenger - Bills legend Thurman Thomas.

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The Bills say Withey is a perfect example of Buffalo’s resilience, which has been put to the test time and time again over the past year. Besides his new Super Bowl plans, Jay also has a cookout scheduled with the people he rescued for when its warmer.

The Aftermath Of Winter Storm Elliot In Buffalo and WNY

A Bomb Cyclone powered by Arctic air dumped more than four feet of snow on Western New York just before Christmas. Thousands were left without power and at least thirty have been confirmed dead in Buffalo. Homes along Lake Erie received the worst of the winter, with many frozen solid.

Despite a travel ban, residents left their homes in days after for groceries and to begin cleanup. State Troopers and military police have been trying to enforce the law as much as possible. Cleanup crews have been trying to clear as much of the snow as possible and dump it into Lake Erie, but the number of abandoned cars in streets and parking lots has slowed progress.

There's currently no monetary estimate of damage to the region.

Gallery Credit: Cameron Coats

77" In 48 Hours - A Look At WNY's Record Breaking Lake Effect Snowstorm

The wet and heavy lake effect snowstorm pelted the area, making traveling impossible. Flights were canceled at Buffalo-Niagara Airport, causing headaches for travelers heading into the Thanksgiving holiday week. Driving bans are in effect in multiple WNY counties, making it illegal for employers to require their workers to commute.

Here’s some snapshots of what it looks like on the ground:

Gallery Credit: Cameron Coats