Former East Carolina University wide receiver Zay Jones is coming to Greenville to support autistic children and raise awareness for Aces for Autism.
Jones, a current Buffalo Bills wide receiver and ECU class of ‘17, will be at The Loft by Stillife on Saturday for the nightclub’s Zay’s Aces for Autism Charity Event, from 3 to 8 p.m. Located at 511 Cotanche St., children, students, families and everyone of all ages are welcome to the attend the event, according to Stilllife owner Travis Hixon.
“He reached out to me and he said ‘Hey, can we do an event on a larger scale instead of just an autograph signing,’ and I said of course,” Hixon said. “After talking to him he got his sports agency on board and we got Aces for Autism here in Greenville on board and then we reached out to our sponsors and we all collaborated came up with some gifts and prizes to auction and raffle off.”
Aces for Autism is a local organization that provides community support for families of people with autism. Jones’s first Aces for Autism charity event was held at Sups Dogs in 2017, where he signed autographs and raised money for Ace’s. Hixon said the second annual event that Jones would have held for Ace’s was canceled last year due to personal reasons.
Stilllife currently has a partnership with Light It Up Blue, an Autism Speaks organization that raises money for the organization every April, which is Autism Awareness Month. With the addition of Jones’ event, Hixon said this year they hope to make a bigger donation and bigger impact this April than they have in the past.
“We try to do as much as we can to intrench ourselves as a community and help out as much as we can,” Hixon said. “We’ve been here 13 years now, so we feel like we’re really part of the community and anyway we can help, we try to pull little things together.”
There will be an auction from 3 to 5 p.m. with items including an authentic Jones jersey, Bills tickets for two and an ECU signed helmet. There will also be an autograph signing from 6 to 7 p.m. where Jones will sign any participant’s items for a $10 to $20 donation. Stilllife will sell alcoholic beverages during the event in addition to the auction and autograph signing. One hundred percent of the proceeds from the auction, autographs and Stillllife will be going to Ace’s of Autism of North Carolina.
“We love Zay, he went here, he’s a homegrown kind of talent. We love following him in the pros and he always shows us love even when he’s not around. We’re just happy that he’s coming back and giving back to Greenville even being in a different city now but giving back to Greenville, remembering where he came from,” Hixon said.
During his time as a Pirate, Jones led all NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision receivers in receptions at 158, receptions per game at 13.2, receiving yards at 1,746 and receiving yards per game at 145.5. He set single season records for ECU and the American Athletic Conference in receptions and receiving yards, surpassing former ECU receiver Justin Hardy’s total of 121 receptions and 1,494 yards back in 2014.
Jones graduated from ECU in spring of 2017 and was drafted to the Buffalo Bills that fall as a wide receiver and has played during the 2017-2018 and 2018-2019 season. During the 2017-2018 season he played in 15 games, had 27 receptions, 316 total receiving yards and made two touchdowns. During the 2018-2019 season he played in all 16 games, had 56 receptions, 652 receiving yards and made seven touchdowns.