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January 08, 2023

With millions already donated, Damar Hamlin's family launches official 'Chasing M's Foundation' charitable fund

The Bills player from Allegheny County suffered cardiac arrest last week during a game against the Bengals, and has since received an outpouring of support from the football world and beyond

The passionate NFL community came together to support Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin in any way possible after he suffered cardiac arrest on the field on Jan. 2 during a "Monday Night Football" game against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Along with making signs and flooding social media with well wishes for the Allegheny County native, football fans and beyond mobilized to donate millions overnight to a toy drive fundraiser Hamlin started in 2020. Now, with Hamlin appearing to be on the mend, his family is taking the opportunity to thank supporters around the world and to formally launch "The Chasing M's Foundation" Charitable Fund.

"Each day, Damar shows renewed strength and our family is incredibly grateful for the global outpouring of concern we have been given," Hamlin's father, Mario Hamlin, said in a statement released by the Bills. "We remain humbled by the prayers and good wishes of so many, which have helped to sustain us as he continues to heal."

The Chasing M's Foundation Charitable Fund formalized a partnership with The Giving Back Fund, an organization exclusively focused on philanthropic management. All charitable contributions, activities and allocations from Jan. 2 forward will be facilitated through the fund. 

Donations can be made online, by mail or by texting "GIVEFOR3" to 44-321.

Hamlin has also released merchandise, with proceeds going towards first responders and the University of Cincinnati Trauma Center. The shirts ask "Did we win?" due to reports by doctors that once Hamlin was able to communicate through writing he wanted to know the outcome of the game in which he was injured.

Leading up to the launch of the charitable fund, fans had been donating to a GoFundMe page started to raise money for a 2020 toy drive sponsored by Hamlin's Chasing M's Foundation, which also hosts back-to-school drives and kids' camps. Before Hamlin's collapse, which occurred around 8:55 p.m. Monday, the Chasing M's Foundation had raised about $2,900, just over its $2,500 goal. Six days later, the page has generated over $8 million thanks to nearly 250,000 donations.

The outburst of support was sparked by the frightening scene last week when 24-year-old Hamlin suffered cardiac arrest following a hit in the game, before having his heartbeat restored on the field as both Bills and Bengals players prayed together in visible distress. The second-year player was transferred to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center for testing and treatment, where he spent several days in critical condition.

The medical team caring for Hamlin confirmed on Thursday that the cardiac arrest stemmed from commotio cordis. The incredibly rare injury, usually seen among young baseball players, occurs when a sharp blow to the chest happens at a precise moment in the cardiac cycle, making the heart's rhythm erratic and potentially causing a life-threatening cardiac arrest.

Fans could breathe a sigh of relief this weekend when, less than a week after the incident, the Allegheny County native was "progress(ing) remarkably," according to the Bills, and was even able to FaceTime with teammates and friends, including the Eagles' Miles Sanders.

On Saturday, Hamlin himself took to Instagram for the first time since the incident to thank fans for the support.

"The Love has been overwhelming, but I’m thankful for every single person that prayed for me and reached out," Hamlin wrote. "We brung the world back together behind this. If you know me you know this only gone make me stronger."

Hamlin also expressed his desire to be on the field with his "Brothers," in a Tweet posted Sunday before the Bills' win over the Patriots, and he shared a photo from the hospital, wearing a "Love for Damar" shirt and putting his hands together to form a heart.

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