“Ten Lives Club saves 3,000 homeless and abandoned cats in need a year so this will make an incredible difference for our organization,” Kimberly LaRussa, a representative of the nonprofit, tells PEOPLE
A Buffalo-area cat rescue organization has received more than $260,000 in donations in honor of Buffalo Bills kicker Tyler Bass
Bass missed a game-tying field goal in the Bills-Kansas City Chiefs game on Sunday, and later began receiving hateful threats
The kicker, who was drafted by the Bills in 2020, is an ambassador for the rescue, Ten Lives Club
A Buffalo-area cat rescue organization has Taylor Swift to thank after thousands of the superstar’s fans showed their support in honor of a feline-loving football player.
Kimberly LaRussa, of Ten Lives Club in Erie County, N.Y., said that Swifties have united — to show their love for Buffalo Bills kicker Tyler Bass, who missed a game-tying field goal against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday night.
“There are a lot of Swiftie groups out there that are rallying and donating on behalf of Tyler Bass,” LaRussa told the Today show.
As of Thursday afternoon, the shelter has received more than $260,000 in donations, she said, which will make an impact in Western New York.
“Ten Lives Club saves 3,000 homeless and abandoned cats in need a year so this will make an incredible difference for our organization,” LaRussa told PEOPLE earlier this week. “We are so grateful to everyone for their support and for having Tyler's back. We hope this brings him a smile knowing what a difference he is making.”
Following Sunday's game in which the NFL player missed a 44-yard field goal that would have brought the Bills even with the Chiefs with less than 2 minutes left in the fourth quarter, Bass started getting hateful threats. And after the 27-24 loss was final, the 26-year-old turned off his X and Instagram accounts.
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Ten Lives Club then set out to support the athlete, who serves as an ambassador for the organization.
“We met Tyler Bass through a nonprofit organization called Show Your Soft Side,” LaRussa says. “They aim to prevent animal cruelty by teaming up with celebrities and athletes to show that you can still be tough and be kind to animals. Show Your Soft Side teamed up with Ten Lives Club and had us bring our rescue kittens to meet and take photos with Tyler.”
She adds, “Everyone at our cat shelter has been a big fan of his ever since, so to see the negativity and hate that was coming his way hurt our hearts.”
Sunday’s outcome also weighs heavily on Bass, who was drafted by the Bills in the sixth round of the 2020 NFL Draft.
“It’s completely on me,” he told reporters earlier this week. “I’ve got to do a better job of getting through to my target. I’ve got to do a better job of playing it a little bit more left when you have a left to right [wind]. I’ve been here long enough to know that you have to do that.”
As for LaRussa and those at the shelter, Bass had already won them over.
“Most of the football players took photos with dogs,” LaRussa said about the Show Your Soft Side promotion they did with other athletes. “And Tyler wanted to help cats, which we thought was really cool."
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