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Fans raise more than $4 million for Damar Hamlin's toy drive

Fans gather outside University of Cincinnati Medical Center, late Monday in Cincinnati, where the Buffalo Bills' Damar Hamlin was taken after collapsing on the field during an NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Jeff Dean
/
AP
Fans gather outside University of Cincinnati Medical Center, late Monday in Cincinnati, where the Buffalo Bills' Damar Hamlin was taken after collapsing on the field during an NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Updated January 3, 2023 at 1:09 PM ET

An online fundraiser started by the Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin registered more than $4 million in donations just hours after the NFL star suffered cardiac arrest during a game on Monday.

The Bills said in a statement that the 24-year-old's heartbeat was restored while on the field, but that he was sedated and remains in critical condition. The NFL suspended the game between the Bills and the Cincinnati Bengals as condolences for Hamlin poured in from across the sports world.

Fans also showed their support by pouring millions of dollars into a charity that Hamlin started in 2020, shortly before he was picked in the sixth round of the 2021 NFL draft.

"As I embark on my journey to the NFL, I will never forget where I come from and I am committed to using my platform to positively impact the community that raised me," Hamlin wrote on the foundation's GoFundMe page.

The Chasing M Foundation was running a campaign to purchase toys for children in affected by the pandemic in McKees Rocks, Pa., where he grew up.

A cached version of the GoFundMe page shows that before Hamlin's collapse, the foundation had raised a little over $2,900, just eclipsing its goal of $2,500.

As of early afternoon on Tuesday, the fundraiser topped over $4 million in donations thanks to more than 151,200 individual gifts. Thousands of fans across NFL teams shared words of support on the page, which GoFundMe verified on Twitter.

An update on the page published late Tuesday morning read that the fund was the only one being used by the Hamlin family to "contribute to Damar's community initiatives and his current fight." The update also said that the foundation supports "toy drives, back-to-school drives, kids camps and more."

Buffalo Bills fans, who call themselves the Mafia, have a track record of responding to tragedy with acts of charity.

When Bills Quarterback Josh Allen lost his grandmother, they donated $1.1 million to build a new wing at a local hospital. They also raised $75,000 for the favorite charity of a rival player, the Baltimore Ravens' Lamar Jackson, after he was removed from a 2021 playoff game for a concussion.

Hamlin, a second-year safety who played for the University of Pittsburgh, collapsed after tackling Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins in the game's first quarter. Hamlin is being treated at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Emily Olson
Emily Olson is on a three-month assignment as a news writer and live blog editor, helping shape NPR's digital breaking news strategy.