Orleans/Niagara BOCES Art teacher Tom O’Brien is known for working on murals and public art in the Buffalo area. Over the past few years he has also been working with the Buffalo Bills for the “My Cause, My Cleats” charitable campaign in the NFL.

“I had an artist friend of mine approach me to see if I wanted to work with some of the players on the designs. I started out working with Robert Woods and then the following year I worked with Josh Allen and some of the other players. I also work with the coaches and their wives. It’s a lot of fun collaborating with them and I am humbled that they allow me to part of it,” O’Brien said. 

“My Cause, My Cleats” is in an initiative in which players design cleats to support a charitable cause of their choosing. The cleats are then auctioned off, with proceeds going to that charity.

O’Brien says he has gotten to hang out with the players or the coaches in the locker room during the practices or would have lunch with them to discuss ideas for their cleats. Now of course, Zoom calls are the norm.

“They will meet with me two to three days and we exchange ideas about what their cause is and I try to use my skills to give them what they want,” he said.  

Asked about the fantastic season they are having, he says it is hard not to be a fan boy. “I have so much respect for them as people and of course I am so proud of them and the year they are having. I have to thank them for all they do for the community and the causes they highlight. They are a wonderful group of people. I am very proud to be part of the Bills Mafia.” 

O’Brien also has his own fans; his students at the Orleans Learning Center and Newfane Learning Center. “I love being a teacher and working with these kids,” he says. “I work with a great group of educators and I am really happy to be working at Orleans/Niagara BOCES.”

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