An online charitable fundraiser set up more than two years ago by Damar Hamlin has received more than $4.1 million in donations since the Buffalo Bills safety collapsed on the field last night on “Monday Night Football.”
Hamlin, a sixth-round draft pick out of Pittsburgh in 2021, climbed to his feet after tackling Cincinnati Bengals receiver Tee Higgins, then fell back to the turf and seemed to lose consciousness. He was administered CPR, defibrillated and transported by ambulance to a hospital. The team later said he had suffered “a cardiac arrest” following the tackle and “is currently sedated and listed in critical condition.”
The incident played out in front of stunned fans watching at Paycor Stadium in Cincinnati and millions more on national television. Since then, many people have come across a GoFundMe page Hamlin set up in December 2020 to support a Pittsburgh-area toy drive.
Hamlin’s initial goal for the fundraiser was $2,500. An archived version of the GoFundMe page shows it had raised just under $3,000 shortly before his collapse Monday night. But the response since then has been phenomenal, with the fund serving as an outlet for more than 154,000 people looking for a way to express their concern.
“This fundraiser was initially established to support a toy drive for Damar’s community, sponsored by the Chasing M’s Foundation,” an update to the GoFundMe page read Tuesday morning. “However, it has received renewed support in light of Damar’s current battle and we can’t thank all of you enough. Your generosity and compassion mean the world to us.”
Many donors also used the GoFundMe page to leave messages of support for Hamlin. Some made a point that NFL rooting interests don’t matter at a time like this, with fans of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Green Bay Packers, Dallas Cowboys, Seattle Seahawks and New Orleans Saints among those chipping in.
“We are praying for you, your family, and team! First time we’ve watched you play & our heart is broken! We pray you recover & that God will always watch over & protect you! Football is great, but you’re even more special!” donors Lindsay and Chase Yates wrote.
“We need you here with us Damar, so you can continue to shine your light on the world brother! Prayers and love,” David Chamberlain wrote.
“I care about this young man, and I don’t even know him,” Monte White wrote. “Anything I can do to advance this man’s worthy cause I want to do. Praying for his complete healing and full recovery.”
Hamlin grew up in the Pittsburgh area and wrote on the GoFundMe page that he started the Chasing M’s Foundation as a way of “using my platform to positively impact the community that raised me.” The toy drive was the foundation’s first program and was set up to “positively impact children who have been hardest hit by the pandemic,” he wrote.
The toy drive has become an annual event, with Hamlin and the foundation posting video from 2022 on Instagram last week. The toys are distributed through Kelly and Nina’s Daycare Center — which is co-owned by Hamlin’s mother, Nina Hamlin — in McKees Rocks, Pa.
“If you would like to show your support and contribute to Damar’s community initiatives and his current fight, this is the place to do so,” the update to the GoFundMe page read. “This is the only current fund that is being used by the Hamlin Family.
“Again, thank you for your thoughts, prayers and generous support during this time.”