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Maria Marusewski’s initial reaction was disbelief when she learned she had won the Buffalo Sabres Foundation’s 50/50 raffle during the final home game of the season on April 11.

Marusewski – a full-season Season Ticket Member for the Bandits and a half-season Member for the Sabres – listed off her plans for how she might spend her prize of $49,614, including house repairs, paying off her car, and planning activities for her and her family.

Oh, and one more expenditure.

“We’re going to buy full seasons for the Sabres,” Marusewski said.

Individuals like Marusewski experience life-changing moments throughout the season as winners of the 50/50 raffle are declared at every Sabres and Bandits home game. With the support of Northtown Automotive, the other half of the money raised has gone back into the community, helping Western New York on a broader scale.

The Buffalo Sabres Foundation raised $1,207,876 through the 50/50 raffle in 2023-24, meaning $603,000 was given back to Buffalo. More than 75 charitable organizations benefitted from the money raised.

“The Northtown Automotive Companies have been a proud sponsor of the Buffalo Sabres for many years,” Northtown chief operating officer Harold Erbacher said. “We are proud to partner with the Sabres 50/50 fundraising efforts helping support over 75 different nonprofits right here in our Western New York community.”

Mental Health Advocates of Western New York (MHA) was one of those beneficiaries. The Buffalo Sabres Foundation presented MHA with a $25,000 donation on Nov. 14, made in honor of former captain Kyle Okposo on the occasion of his 1,000th NHL game.

MHA used those funds to help launch its Teen Chat Line, which gives local teenagers an outlet to speak with professionally trained youth peer advocates.

“Mental Health Advocates of Western New York (MHA) would like to thank the Buffalo Sabres Foundation for the generous support of the newly launched Teen Chat Line,” MHA executive director Melinda DuBois said. “Our youth are experiencing unprecedented rates of anxiety and depression, and this non-crisis warm line will provide an additional resource and support for our youth during this great time of need. 

“Prevention and early intervention are key to managing mental illness and building a solid foundation of life-long mental well-being. Thanks to the Buffalo Sabres Foundation for prioritizing youth mental health and recognizing the need for creative solutions to address this youth mental health crisis.”

Buffalo City Mission was another organization that benefitted in the form of a $10,000 donation to supports its efforts to alleviate homelessness in Western New York.

“The City Mission is extraordinarily grateful to the Sabres and the community who donated,” said Aubrey Calhoun, executive director of the Buffalo City Mission. “The generosity expressed by all those involved in the donation of $10,000 will help to continue renewing the lives of those who are struggling with poverty and homelessness in Buffalo.”

The Buffalo Sabres Foundation and Northtown Automotive are committed to continuing to create change through the 50/50 raffle, both in the lives of individuals and in the larger community.

“With over $1 million raised to date, Northtown looks forward to helping the Sabres raise the next million dollars for our community,” Erbacher said. “See you at a game next year!”