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January 03, 2023

Damar Hamlin's toy drive raises over $4 million less than a day after he suffered on-field cardiac arrest

The Bills player from Allegheny County remains in critical condition; fans continue donating to his fundraiser, which benefits kids affected by the pandemic

Fans of football and beyond have mobilized to donate to an online toy drive fundraiser created by Damar Hamlin, the Buffalo Bills safety who collapsed on the field during a Monday Night Football game against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Hamlin, a 24-year-old Allegheny County native, suffered cardiac arrest following a hit in the game on Jan. 2 and his heartbeat was restored on the field, the Bills stated. The second-year player was transferred to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center for testing and treatment, where he was sedated and listed in critical condition as of Tuesday morning.

RELATED: Nick Sirianni on Bills' Damar Hamlin: 'I just hope and pray that Damar is OK' 

With little news on Hamlin's status, supporters rushed to help in whatever way they could, donating millions to Hamlin's Chasing M's Foundation. The charity purchases toys for children affected by the pandemic in McKees Rocks, Pa., where Hamlin grew up.

"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 GoFundMe page for the campaign.

According to a cached version of the page, 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. As of 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, the GoFundMe has generated over $4.2 million thanks to approximately 157,000 donations.

Donations as large as $15,000 have been pouring in, with contributions from users such as "Love from a niner Fan," "Seattle Seahawks" and "Bengals Damar Fans" showing support from across the league. A user under the name "Tom Brady" donated $10,000. There is even speculation that some high-profile supporters donated from multiple accounts so as not to exceed the IRS' tax deduction threshold.

GoFundMe verified the campaign's legitimacy on Twitter

"Following his injury on the field tonight, fans across the country are showing their support for (Hamlin) and his family by donating to his fundraiser," GoFundMe wrote in the tweet.

Hamlin started Chasing M's Foundation in 2020 before being picked in the sixth round of the 2021 NFL draft. The foundation's first program was a 2020 toy drive, which the GoFundMe page was created for, sending toys to Kelly and Nina's Daycare Center in McKees Rocks, just outside Pittsburgh. Hamlin also has donated clothes from his brand, Chasing M's, and toys in both Buffalo and Pittsburgh.

Just last month, Hamlin discussed extending his charitable spirit from his hometown to Buffalo.

“Something I’ve always been into just giving back, something I’ve been doing back home in Pittsburgh for three years, I’ve been doing the toy drive, so just being able to extend it to Buffalo now is just something I love doing,” Hamlin told CNN affiliate WKBW at a Dec. 19 toy drive in Buffalo, where he signed autographs for children.

Along with donations to Hamlin's charity, well wishes for Hamlin flooded social media from people inside and outside the sports world, including the Eagles organization as well as Eagles players with whom Hamlin had ties. Eagles running back Miles Sanders went to high school less than 10 miles from Hamlin in Pittsburgh, and cornerback Avonte Maddox played on Pitt's football team with him for two years.

Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni spoke about Hamlin on the 94WIP morning show Tuesday.

"I just hope and pray that Damar is OK," Sirianni said.

Tuesday afternoon, the family of Hamlin put out a statement expressing gratitude for the "prayers, kind words, and donations from fans around the country."

Those interested in donating can head to GoFundMe

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