Sarah Rogers was passionate about jazz. sang. I wrote songs. She played gigs all over Buffalo, and performed songs and specials. She also shared her love of music with children through music therapy.
Friday, just before 9 p.m., she was riding a bike along South Park Street near the Seneca Buffalo Creek casino when she was hit by a westbound Chrysler, according to Buffalo police.
The Chrysler driver also hit two other cyclists, a 27-year-old Getzville and a 32-year-old woman, near South Park and Columbia Street. Chrysler then hit a parked vehicle, causing it to collide with another parked vehicle, before finally coming to a stop nearby, according to police.
Ms. Rogers was taken to Buffalo General Hospital, where she was pronounced dead. She was 29 years old. The other cyclists were taken to Erie County Medical Center.
Police said the driver may have had a medical emergency before the accidents occurred.
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Born in 1993, Mrs. Rogers was raised in Buffalo with a passion for music. She participated in the band, jazz ensemble, and choral at Williamsville East High School, where she graduated in 2011. While still a student, she composed tracks, including one for the Williamsville East choral, according to former Williamsville East band manager Stephen Schwann.
“When she started, I don’t know if she knew how much she loved music, but by the end of her sophomore year, she had a real passion,” Siwan said.
Ms. Rogers’ passion led her to study Music Therapy, Psychology, and Jazz Studies at Nazareth College in Rochester, where she received her Bachelor of Music degree in 2015. She was recognized in 2015 by the college for Music Therapy Award and Raymond Shiner Jazz Award.
After returning to Buffalo, she began providing music therapy services, specializing in people with autism spectrum disorders, aphasia, Alzheimer’s disease, and post-stroke symptoms.
She was a faculty member at Villa Maria College, where she taught music psychology, expressive arts therapy, and performance psychology.
Ms. Rogers has also worked with various organizations, such as Our Lady of Victory Human Services, Community Music School of Buffalo, Liberty POST, and Buffalo Niagara Music Therapy Services.
At OLV Human Services, she has worked with children and adolescents with disabilities, as well as mental health and behavioral issues. Ms. Rogers has taught clients in songwriting, choir and music lessons. She also invited customers to participate in shows and performances such as the Christmas party she oversaw in 2020.
The group sessions hosted by Ms. Rogers have been popular with clients for their ability to “raise their self-esteem” and “always be authentic,” according to Sonia Pollack of OLV Human Services.
“Sarah was always trying to improve her music therapy services,” Pollack said. “She was getting machines and computers for our clients, and she was there for what they wanted and needed.”
Mrs. Rogers’ sudden departure has left the local music, therapy, and education communities in mourning.
“She was all we needed in this world,” Siwan said, “so when we heard it was Sarah, she was like, ‘No, not Sarah.’” “She was amazing… she even went to Tops to provide music therapy services to those affected.”
On Wednesday afternoon, GObike Buffalo plans to hold a vigil in her honor where the accident occurred.
A GObike spokesperson said: “We are deeply saddened by the loss of our neighbor Sarah Rogers, and deeply concerned for the health of the two other women who were exposed separately that night.”
Honors in business by local music groups. JazzBuffalo, another local nonprofit, plans to honor Mrs. Rogers on July 28 during the Jazz in Chandlerville. On August 26, the Peace Garden stage at the Northwest Jazz Festival in Lewiston will be renamed the Sarah Rogers Peace Garden Stage. Rogers was scheduled to perform Girl Crush+ at both events on those dates.
“Sarah has truly epitomized the next generation of musicians and artists who are helping to revitalize Buffalo. I admired her independent spirit, and she was a natural leader. … So, we really want to use these as a way to honor her,” said Tony Zampetto, Founder and CEO of JazzBuffalo.
Ms. Rogers is survived by her longtime partner, Nelson Rivera. Her mother is Lisa Rogers. and her sister Leah Rogers. Prayers will be held at Lombardo Funeral Home (Synder Chapel), 4614 Main St. 7 p.m. on Saturday, June 25.