Fans donate millions of dollars to Bills safety toy drive

In the first 12 hours after his accident, his foundation has raised more than $3 million.

The objective of damar hamlin it was simple: he wanted to raise $2,500 to buy toys for children in need.

It took about two years.

Then came Monday, when the New Yorkers’ safety buffalo bills he was seriously injured and needed his heart to be restarted on the field in a chilling scene that unfolded during a nationally televised game against the Cincinnati Bengals. He instantly became one of the biggest stories in sports and thousands of people found his fan page. GoFundMe.

The result: approximately 3.7 million dollars donated in the first 12 hours and the number continues to rise.

A fundraiser that until last month added up to $2,921 increased this Tuesday to $3,637,590 with around 130,000 people donating, on average, around $28. Some of the donations were small. Some donated more than $5,000. On average, about three donations were made every second in that initial 12-hour window.

And many came with messages of hope for a 24-year-old who is sedated in a Cincinnati hospital, in critical condition and with some teammates unwilling to return to Buffalo just to stay close to him.

“There are moments in life that stop the world,” wrote Michael Lynch, who donated Tuesday morning. “We are all praying for two things. Your speedy recovery and that your impact on the world is enhanced by your page of GoFundMe“.

Many of the messages came from fans letting the world know that they support other teams. One came with a hashtag which read: “We are all fanatics of Bills“.

In a statement on Tuesday, the family of damar hamlin expressed his “heartfelt gratitude for the love and support shown to Damar during this difficult time. We are deeply touched by the prayers, kind words and donations from fans across the country.”

Hamlin began his GoFundMe in December 2020. He was finishing up his college degree and preparing for the NFL draft process. He wanted to have a toy drive in Kelly and Nina’s Daycare Center in his hometown of McKees Rocks, Pennsylvania, a place with about 6,000 residents along the south bank of the Ohio River.

“As I embark on my journey to the NFL, I will never forget where I came from and am committed to using my platform to positively impact the community that raised me,” he wrote. damar hamlin when preparing the campaign. “I created The Chasing M’s Foundation as a medium that will allow me to make that impact, and the first program is Community Toy Drive 2020. This campaign gives you the opportunity to contribute to our first initiative and positively impact children who have been hit the hardest by the pandemic.”

He held the first event with about 10 days of planning. Gifts poured in, some of them were clothes donated by Pitt, where he had just finished playing. Hamlin’s upbringing was far from easy: Three close friends were murdered and his father was jailed for about three and a half years for selling drugs. But as soon as he could, Hamlin wanted to help others.

So, the toy drive began. And on Monday, the world finally took notice.

Many of the donations came from fans of Bills, affectionately known as “Bills Mafia”, and this is not the first time they have shown their support. In recent years, Bills fans have shown their support for Miami quarterback Tua Tagovailoa’s foundation after he left a game, also in Cincinnati, with a concussion; for Baltimore quarterback Lamar Jackson’s charity after the Ravens lost a playoff game to Buffalo; and many donated $16.88 to the PUNT Pediatric Cancer Collaborative in Western New York following the death this summer of player Luke Knox.

Luke Knox’s brother, Dawson Knox, plays in the Bills. The $16.88 was a nod to his bib number.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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