While the GoFundMe page was established in 2020, Hamlin has continued to host toy drives since.

Fans place a sign and candles outside the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, early Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2023, in Cincinnati, where Buffalo Bills’ Damar Hamlin was taken after collapsing on the field during an NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday night. AP Photo/Jeff Dean

Donations to a community toy drive Damar Hamlin created in 2020 have topped $3 million in the hours since the Buffalo Bills player suffered cardiac arrest on the field during the game in Cincinnati on Monday night. Hamlin remains hospitalized in critical condition in Cincinnati.

The drive’s GoFundMe page, created while Hamlin was a college player at Pittsburgh, had aimed to raise $2,500 for a day-care center run by his mother, Nina, in his hometown of McKees Rocks, Pa., outside Pittsburgh.

The GoFundMe page resurfaced shortly after Hamlin absorbed a hit to his upper body, stood up and then fell to the ground before being given CPR by medical personnel. Thousands of well-wishers nationwide have donated, with the figure topping $3 million early Monday morning and continuing to grow.

The NFL postponed the game as athletes across all sports and fans offered prayers for the 24-year-old Buffalo Bills safety, who remains at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center. Hamlin collapsed after a hard tackle on Cincinnati Bengals receiver Tee Higgins and “suffered a cardiac arrest,” the team announced early Tuesday morning. “His 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.”

News of the existence of the fund spread quickly on social media, with donations quickly following.

“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 fundraising page in 2020, explaining that he had created the “Chasing M’s Foundation” to help run the toy drive.

Hamlin said he set up the toy drive to “help make the holiday season a little brighter for the kids in our community,” noting that 100 percent of the funds raised would be used to purchase toys for young people in need, and that he hoped to “positively impact children who have been hardest hit by the pandemic.”

While the GoFundMe page was established in 2020, Hamlin has continued to host toy drives since. An Instagram post shared by Hamlin on Christmas Day shows scenes from a recent event.

In the video, children jump up and down in excitement surrounded by gifts and red and green balloons.

“We’re doing it for the kids, they’re having a good time, man,” Hamlin tells the camera before signing merchandise and posing for photographs with children at the event.

On social media Tuesday, many continue to share the link to Hamlin’s toy drive, encouraging people to donate as people around the world await news regarding the star’s condition.

“Link to Damar Hamlin toy drive. At lease we can do something to help while we all feel so helpless,” read one tweet. “Obviously not a lot that our football community can do in times like this but it costs nothing to share the link and contribute to a cause he’s invested in,” read another.

GoFundMe also posted a link to Hamlin’s fundraiser, stating it was a verified campaign, and adding: “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.”

The Bills have one of the NFL’s most active fan bases and it quickly sprang to action in 2019, with over $1.4 million contributed to a fund that helped create the Patricia Allen Pediatric Recovery Wing at John R. Oishei Children’s Hospital in Buffalo following the death of quarterback Josh Allen’s grandmother. That same year, over $41 million was donated to a fund created by J.J. Watt, then playing for the Houston Texans, for Hurricane Harvey relief.

The Washington Post’s Mark Maske and Adam Kilgore contributed to this report.


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