An online toy drive fundraiser started by Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin topped $3 million in donations in the hours after the NFL star collapsed on the field during a game Monday night.
The 24-year-old is in critical condition after suffering a cardiac arrest following a tackle during the first quarter of a game against the Cincinnati Bengals. CPR was administered on the field before he was driven out of the stadium in an ambulance to a Cincinnati hospital.
As fans awaited news on Hamlin’s condition, donations poured in to a GoFundMe fundraiser he started in 2020 to raise money to purchase toys for children, writing at the time, “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. I created The Chasing M’s Foundation as a vehicle that will allow me to deliver that impact.”
The fundraiser topped $74,000 just one hour after Hamlin’s collapse and quickly grew to $2,033,270 just before 1 a.m. ET Tuesday, then soared to more than $3 million just an hour and twenty minutes later with more than 119,000 donations.
“Following his injury on the field tonight, fans across the country are showing their support for him and his family by donating to his fundraiser,” GoFundMe tweeted Monday night.
Bills fans – nicknamed the Bills Mafia – are known for having a charitable heart. In 2021, they celebrated their victory over the Baltimore Ravens by donating money to the favorite charity of Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, who the team lost in the third quarter due to concussion protocol.
And in the 2020 season, Bills fans donated money to a children’s hospital after Bills quarterback Josh Allen’s grandmother died, according to ESPN.
Bills fans charitable spirit seems to mirror Hamlin’s. CNN affiliate WKBW caught up with the NFL player just last month at his toy drive event in Buffalo, where he signed autographs for children.
“Something I’ve always been into just giving back, something I’ve been doing back home in Pittsburgh for three years, I’ve been doing the toy drive, so just being able to extend it to Buffalo now is just something I love doing,” Hamlin told the station at the December 19 event.
Support for Hamlin flooded in Monday night from fans and players across the sports community. The NFL Players Association tweeted that the organization and “everyone in our community is praying for Damar Hamlin.”
In an overnight update, the Bills said Hamlin’s “heartbeat was restored on the field and he was transferred to the UC Medical Center for further testing and treatment. He is currently sedated and listed in critical condition.”
The NFL and the NFL Players Association agreed to postpone the game, a statement from NFL said.