BUFFALO, N.Y. – On Friday morning in front an excited group of supporters and workers at the Diversified Labor Solutions work floor, Executive Director Anne Spisiak presented the Buffalo Bisons with the “Beyond Supportive Award” in recognition of their incredible showcase for their “superfan” Mark Aichinger.
The Beyond Supportive award is presented annually to an individual, family or organization that goes above and beyond the call to serve and support our community. The recipients will in some way have shaped, improved or otherwise had a great effect on the individuals that Beyond Support Network serves.
Anthony Sprague, General Manager for the Bisons, was on hand to accept the award on the Bisons behalf. Mark Aichinger himself was front and center as well to help present the award.
“Mark isn’t just a fan,” Sprague said. “He’s part of the Bisons experience and we love him like he’s a member of our family because he is. If you go to a Bisons game and Mark isn’t there you leave feeling like something was missing.”
The Buffalo Bisons have been a significant member of the community for decades and Mark has been a season-ticket holder for nearly 30 years. He’s become part of the culture at Sahlen Field, so much more than just another fan. On Sept. 2, the Bisons honored that dedication and passion with his own day. The organization produced a bobblehead of Mark in his signature “Hey, you stink!” pose as well as a t-shirt. The video merely announcing this promotion garnered roughly 2 million impressions on the Bisons social channels.
“What they did for Mark is beyond words,” Spisiak added. “The organization has embraced Mark and woven him into their identity and culture. They’ve done it because he’s a dedicated, passionate and enthusiastic FAN, not because he’s someone with a disability. The Bisons recognize Mark as a true part of their team and what makes them successful and by hosting this promotion, they made that known locally and nationally. We are truly grateful.”
When the day came, Mark greeted fans in droves as the line to get in when the gates opened circled the block. The response was truly remarkable. Mark threw out the first pitch in front of a sold-out crowd and received a long-overdue and well-deserved standing ovation from his adoring public.
Mark has been a part of Beyond Support Network for many years and began working at Diversified Labor Solutions (DLS) in June of 2019. DLS is a unique, highly adaptable workforce partner that fills the light manufacturing and assembly needs of businesses all around the area. When visiting the work floor, it’s not uncommon to find Mark in his Bisons gear during his shift.
The Bisons graciously offered to donate to Beyond Support Network all of the net proceeds from the sale of Mark’s bobblehead and t-shirts, totaling more than $6,000. The entire event and its success culminated in November when the Bisons were awarded by Minor League Baseball with the “Golden Bobblehead” award for “Best Digital Campaign or Activation” for Mark’s promotion. A spotlight on Mark that truly can’t be measured.
For all of these reasons, the Buffalo Bisons are more than worthy recipients of the 2023 Beyond Supportive Award.
Beyond Support Network offers a range of comprehensive services designed to cater to the diverse needs of individuals with disabilities. Beyond Support Network’s mission is rooted in the belief that every individual, regardless of their abilities, deserves equal opportunities to lead fulfilling and meaningful lives. Some key services include: Beyond Learning Center, Community/Day Habilitation Services, Employment Services, Residential Support Services.