-NFL UPDATE -
By Elizabeth Perry
Fans looking for an outlet for their disbelief and sadness over Monday night’s on-field collapse of Buffalo Bills’ Safety Damar Hamlin have been donating to an online fundraiser for the 24-year-old’s charity.
More than $4.7 million in donations have been made to his The Chasing M’s Foundation for the youth in his hometown of McKees Rocks.
"Damar is what a lot of kids from McKees Rocks aspire to be, Damar embodies what they want to be growing up, as a man in general," said family friend Cameron Culliver.
On Jan. 2 Hamlin went into cardiac arrest during a Monday Night Football game against the Bengals in Cincinnati after taking a blow to the chest. Currently, he is in critical condition at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center.
Hamlin’s heartbeat was restored on the field, according to a press release from the Bills.
Due to the injury, the game was suspended. Team members of the Bill's organization formed a prayer circle as Hamlin was taken off of the field, and many broke down into tears.
Before Damar played for the Buffalo Bills, he played for Central Catholic and the University of Pittsburgh. As a child, he played with the Sto-Rox Little Vikings youth football team. His younger brother also does, and his dad still coaches with the Little Vikings.
Culliver, president of the Little Vikings Football team, said Damar is constantly coming back to the community to help out where he can.
Though he may not have graduated from Sto-Rox Junior/Senior High School, Culliver said, he is a true representative of what it means to be from Sto-Rox.
"He never forgets where he came from. We're all praying for him. He has a whole community behind him," Culliver said.
Damar Hamlin with Jayquon Reedy of McKees Rocks during a Christmas 2022 event in Stowe Township.
Damar’s mother Nina Hamlin runs Kelly & Nina’s Daycare Center in Stowe Township, which was also the site of one of the toy drives put on by Damar’s charity. Last year, she applied to be on the Sto-Rox School Board, though she was not appointed at that time.
Family representative Jordon Rooney said via Facebook that many scams were popping up which were not affiliated with the Hamlin family or Damar and the sole site affiliated with this GoFundMe.
Damar’s family released a statement on Jan. 3:
“On behalf of our family, we want to express our sincere gratitude for the love and support shown to Damar during this challenging time. We are deeply moved by the prayers, kind words and donations from fans around the country.
We also wanted to acknowledge the dedicated first responders and medical professionals at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center who have provided exceptional care to Damar. We feel so blessed to be part of the Buffalo Bills organization and to have their support. We also want to thank Coach Taylor and the Bengals for all they have done.
Your generosity and compassion mean the world to us. Please keep Damar in your prayers. We will release updates as soon as we have them.
The Hamlin Family.”