After collapsing during a game Monday night, Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin’s online toy drive fundraiser was inundated with donations.
The Bills said in a statement early Tuesday that Hamlin, 24, went into cardiac arrest during the game against the Cincinnati Bengals and was given CPR on the field before being taken to the hospital, where he remains in critical condition.
Following the incident, fans flocked to a GoFundMe Hamlin had set up in 2020, when he was set to enter the league.
The effort aims to raise funds to purchase toys for children affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, with a $2,500 initial fundraising goal.
That was surpassed in the hours following Hamlin’s death, with more than 122,000 donations reaching $3 million by 5 a.m. ET.
Many fans accompanied their donations with messages of support and well-wishes for Hamlin’s health.
GoFundMe shared a link to the page and stated, “Fans across the country are showing their support for him and his family by donating to his fundraiser following his injury on the field tonight.”
As his college career came to an end in 2020, Hamlin, a University of Pittsburgh alumnus, established the charitable foundation and toy drive.
“As I embark on my NFL journey, 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 said on the fund’s page at the time.
“This campaign allows you to contribute to our first initiative while also positively impacting children who have been hardest hit by the pandemic,” he added.
Pitt’s football programme changed its Twitter profile’s header late Monday night to a picture of Hamlin in his No. 3 Panthers jersey, and added: “Damar Hamlin is the best of us. 3. We adore you. “I’m praying for you.”
When Hamlin tackled Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins, stood up, and then collapsed on his back, Cincinnati led 7-3.
On Monday’s broadcast, the apparent gravity of the situation was described as unprecedented in a game where players do occasionally sustain serious injuries.
The game was called off with 5:58 minutes remaining in the first quarter. The game was officially postponed about an hour later, shortly after 10 p.m. ET.
Hamlin is from McKees Rocks, Pennsylvania, which is close to Pittsburgh, and he was selected in the sixth round of the 2021 NFL Draft.
As emotional fans gathered outside the hospital with candles, NFL players joined the rally in support of Hamlin, according to video from NBC affiliate WLWT.
“Bills Mafia is with you, @HamlinIsland,” the Buffalo Bills tweeted, referring to the player and a nickname for Bills fans. The Bengals were among those who responded with an emoji of praying hands. “Please pray for our brother,” Bills quarterback Josh Allen wrote.
“I’m asking all New Yorkers to join me in praying for Damar Hamlin, his family, his teammates, and our brothers and sisters in Buffalo,” said New York City Mayor Eric Adams.