#3 And a Dream



Damar Hamlin continues to improve and reach out to fans. Whether it be on Twitter or Instagram, Hamlin has made sure to check in with progress. “The love is felt and extremely real.” Hamlin said.

Braylen Ferrell, Staff Writer

A heart stopping injury and a $2,500 foundation. 

Damar Hamlin’s goal was simple: raise $2,500 for children in need. 

Hamlin opened up the toy drive when his college career was coming to a close, and his NFL career began in hopes of preventing his past. While it took two years to reach the original goal, it took a mere 24 hours to blow it out of the water. After suffering an injury this severe, it is important to see the kind of impact a player can have off the field.

Hamlin’s upbringing wasn’t a smooth one, as he lost three of his childhood friends due to gun violence, as well as seeing his father incarcerated for over three years due to selling drugs. However, when given the opportunity to help kids in tough situations, Hamlin opened the “Chasing M’s Foundation” to bring toys and other essentials to children in need. Hamlin opened the toy drive in 2020 at Kelly and Nina’s Daycare Center, a facility co-owned by his mother. Hamlin’s goal was to raise a mere $2,500 for children in unfortunate situations. By the beginning of this month, the total had reached $2,921. However, everything would change on Jan. 2, 2023. 

In a game against the Cincinnati Bengals, the young Bills’ safety took a direct hit to the chest while attempting a tackle. After this play, Hamlin would remain incapacitated on the field. In this event, Hamlin’s heart would stop, and would have to be resuscitated on the field. Millions watched and listened to the incident. While the medical squad scrambled, both teams would kneel and surround the downed player. While not confirmed, it is suggested that this hit is what could have triggered his cardiac arrest. After being taken to a nearby hospital in critical condition, the game would be suspended and later canceled entirely. 

However, the tragic incident shined light on the relatively unknown foundation, and it didn’t take long for fans to find Hamlin’s GoFundMe. In the first initial 17 hours, 2.5 donations were being made every second. Within 24 hours, Hamlins original goal was blown out of the water, and reached a staggering $5.5 million. Donations came from everywhere, and fellow players around the league poured in donations. Some ranging from $10 to an astounding $10,000. Donations continue to accumulate as the total has now reached a staggering $8.9 million. 

Hamlin’s GoFundMe wasn’t the only way to represent the young talent. The NFL and others would find ways to honor Hamlin. Whether it was warm up jerseys sporting Hamlin’s number three, or ESPN changing the “E” on their microphones to represent his number. In Cincinnati, where the injury took place, many buildings throughout the city would have their lights changed to blue to recognize the team. Even in trying times, seeing people come together was a refreshing sight for many in the sports world.

While Hamlin’s GoFundMe continues to skyrocket, Hamlin would continue to go through extensive care. By Jan. 4, the team would spread word that, while still being in ICU, Hamlin was showing signs of improvement. A few days later on Jan. 6, Hamlin would begin breathing on his own and confirm that there was no neurological damage done. Something that his medical team considered a miracle. 

On Jan. 8, A photo of Hamlin would be posted to his Instagram account confirming his consciousness. The photo was of his parents bedside at the Cincinnati hospital. The next day, it would be confirmed that Hamlin was officially discharged and transferred to a new facility closer to home in Buffalo. Today, Hamlin continues to show steady and miraculous progress, and while time will only tell, best case shows Hamlin returning to who he was before the injury. Although Hamlin has shown improvement , that hasn’t stopped the Chasing M’s Foundation from growing, as donations continue to pour in every few minutes. 

When you put real love into the world it comes back to you 3x’s as much. The love has been overwhelming, but I’m thankful for every single person that prayed for me and reached out. If you know me you know this only gone make me stronger. On a long road of recovery keep praying for me!

— Caption From Damar Hamlin's Instagram Post

Away from the hospital, the Bills took on the Cincinnati Bengals Jan. 22 for the first time since Hamlin’s injury. In this game, hamlin would make his first public appearance at a game since his injury, in which he was cheering on his team from the stands. Unfortunately for the Bills, they would be taken down by Cincinnati, with the final score tallying 27-10. However, Hamlin would remain optimistic. “We’ll be back… don’t even trip”, Hamlin tweeted out following the loss.