Long before Buffalo Bills player Damar Hamlin went into cardiac arrest during Monday night’s NFL game against the Cincinnati Bengals, he was behind a 2020 GoFundMe campaign to raise money for a holiday toy drive in his hometown of McKees Rocks, Pa. His goal? A modest $2,500.
But within hours of Hamlin’s being carried off the field in an ambulance Monday, the GoFundMe campaign suddenly took off again. As of Tuesday morning, nearly $4 million had been raised from more than 145,000 contributors. Individual donations have ranged from a few dollars up to $5,500.
In a tweet posted Monday evening, GoFundMe acknowledged the unusual situation, saying of Hamlin’s campaign: “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.”
Donors are posting messages of hope and saying they want to help Hamlin in any way they can.
“Prayers for Damar Hamlin from a Bills Fan from Switzerland. Get well soon, Damar!” wrote one. “The world is behind your recovery,” said another.
In his original statement on the GoFundMe page, Hamlin had explained why he was launching the campaign. “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,” he said at the time.
Jordon Rooney, a spokesperson for the Hamlin family, said on Twitter that those who want to support Hamlin can contribute to the toy-drive GoFundMe campaign, noting that the money raised will go to Hamlin’s foundation, which also funds other community efforts. Rooney advised people not to contribute to any other GoFundMe campaigns supposedly set up on Hamlin’s behalf.
The Buffalo Bills team has a history of supporting charitable causes — and its die-hard fan base, dubbed the Bills Mafia, has generously contributed to those efforts. One noteworthy example: Fans kicked in $1.1 million for a pediatric recovery wing at a local hospital that was named in honor of Patricia Allen, the late grandmother of Bills quarterback Josh Allen.
As of early Tuesday morning, Hamlin was listed in critical condition, according to a statement posted by the Buffalo Bills on Twitter. “His heartbeat was restored on the field and he was transferred to the [University of Cincinnati] Medical Center for further testing and treatment. He is currently sedated and listed in critical condition,” the Bills said.