Mary Bonner

Mary Bonner at the Buffalo and Erie Botanical Gardens in Buffalo, NY.

After a life-threatening experience with COVID-19, Western New Yorker Mary Bonner is on the mend and spreading a message of hope for the new year.

On March 23, 2020, Bonner believed she was coming down with a cold. She stayed home for five hours believing her symptoms could be self-remedied, until she realized how serious her situation was. She was rushed to Buffalo General Hospital, where she was immediately admitted to the Intensive Care Unit, and soon after was placed on a ventilator. 

While on the ventilator, Bonner’s fragile state declined further, ultimately requiring a blood transfusion. She remained reliant on assisted breathing until mid-April, when she began to regain strength and consciousness, and was finally able to breathe on her own without the ventilator.

Bonner,  a mother of four, and grandmother of 14, says, “My health means everything to me, I have a reason to be healthy.” Since overcoming COVID-19, Bonner has enacted dramatic changes to her lifestyle, including healthy eating and a regular exercise schedule. 

She is grateful for her support system including her family, and her recent reconnection with her childhood sweetheart, Paul. 

“What I have to say to anyone who’s 60 plus: 'Stand up. Do something. Go volunteer,” she says. 

Bonner stays true to her own words by visiting women and children at homeless shelters, supporting survivors of addiction, and volunteering as a respected elder at her church. She is also an active member of Buffalo’s African American Cultural Center (AACC), where she serves on the board. Founded in 1958, the AACC takes pride in offering  “sanctuary, validation, and celebration for the duality of being African and American.” 

Described as a peace-maker, problem-solver, and fighter, Bonner encourages everyone to, “Stay strong, stay healthy, [and] keep your mind busy. Think about all of the things you can do.”

Buffalo 60 Strong is sponsored by Buffalo Medical Group, in conjunction with the launch of Senior Care Advantage ONE. 


Ashley Ziomek is a freelance writer living in Western New York.


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