Illustration student champions cause to keep Bills in Buffalo

A. Sue Weisler

Rachel DiNunzio, a second-year illustration student, models a T-shirt with the logo she designed for a marketing campaign about the Buffalo Bills.

This year’s Buffalo Bills debut in Toronto passed with little fanfare, but this hasn’t quieted speculation that the NFL franchise might leave western New York for Toronto once the Ralph Wilson Jr. era of ownership ends.

Rachel DiNunzio, a second-year illustration student, Williamsville native and diehard Bills fan, is doing her best to keep the team in Orchard Park. She helped with a grassroots marketing effort started by her brother and uncle to rally the fan base.

“My brother, Alex, is a senior at the University of Buffalo. He’s a brilliant guy and a young entrepreneur,” says DiNunzio. “Alex and my uncle, Bob Schwartz, wanted to create a way to inform and unite Buffalonians about how to keep the Bills.”

Alex DiNunzio and Schwartz launched BillsInBuffalo4ever and recruited Rachel to design the campaign’s logo. Her design is featured on a Web site, T-shirts and bumper stickers.

“They wanted me to design something to do with Buffalo love, an identifiable logo that would stick with people when they saw it.”

Something else that might stick with fans when they visit is Alex DiNunzio and Schwartz’s humorous approach to finding a serious buyer for the team. They wrote letters to billionaires like Microsoft founder Bill Gates. A portion of the letter reads:

“Dear Mr. Gates,

Congratulations on regaining the top spot on Forbes list of America’s richest people. Well done! It is our pleasure to inform you that as a multi-billionaire you meet the criteria to receive a free BillsinBuffalo4Ever T-shirt. As per this limited time offer, all you need to do to take delivery of this sporty and stylish shirt is purchase the Buffalo Bills and sign an “iron clad” agreement to never move the franchise out of Western New York.”

In addition to the tongue-and-cheek letter-writing campaign, Bills fans can sign an online petition on the Web site. The BillsinBuffalo4Ever founders plan to present the petition to NFL officials.

DiNunzio says it’s fantastic to be part of the 12th-man mission.

“I can be wearing the T-shirt and people recognize the logo. The response has been overwhelming. People from all over the country have contacted us. To know that my visual element is a key part of this initiative is great. I’m flattered. It’s a great way to start off my career.”

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