Compassion In Critical Conditions


(Photo Courtesy of NFL

Annalise Bodine, Reporter

Bills’ safety Damar Hamlin is receiving care after going into cardiac arrest during a Monday night game against the Cincinnati Bengals. After a tackle against Bengals’ receiver Tee Higgins on January 2, 2023, Hamlin experienced a rare medical scare involving his cardiovascular health. This was the 24-year-old’s second season with the New York team after his college football career at the University of Pittsburgh before being selected by the Bills in the sixth round of the 2021 NFL Draft. Early on January 3, 2023, team officials announced that Hamlin’s heart was flat-lined after a hit during a play in the first quarter. After the hit, Hamlin could stand up and walk two steps before his body went limp and he collapsed backward. Medical personnel rushed to the field and the safety’s heart was quickly restarted before being taken to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center for further care.

“This injury will most likely change football and how football will be played,” varsity football player Xavier Sanchez said “A feeling of fear will follow athletes after that game.”

As the news of Damar’s status spread across the public eye, fans were shocked at the severity of his state. Along with prayers for Hamlin and his family, an additional spotlight was put on the incredible staff, emergency workers, and trainers that sprung into action. One such employee was Denny Kellington, a Bills assistant athletic trainer who performed CPR on Hamlin.

“This game has brought a new light to athletic trainers,” Jordan Lindeman, junior and athletic trainer, said. “We were all worried for his health and safety of course, but the fact that everyone is finally recognizing sports medicine and how much of a difference it makes on and off the field is incredible.”

While in recovery from this injury, a 2020 GofundMe page started by Hamlin resurfaced on the internet as the safety’s story gained global coverage. Fans were quick to pour their support and funds into the foundation titled “Chasing Ms” which included a toy drive originally aimed to raise $2,500 to buy toys for kids in need. Yet, within the first 24 hours of his injury, the page surpassed an unprecedented $5.5 million. Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady was one of the thousands of fellow athletes to show his support for Hamlin’s cause.

“It hits all of us,” Brady said “You’re watching it live. It’s a tough thing for anyone to watch. And I think we all just love what we do. We love playing.”

After the extensive support that both Bill’s and NFL fans alike showed to the foundation, many members and contributors of the cause came forward to express their gratitude and plan for the overwhelming success of the cause.

“We are moved by the generous support for Damar in this trying time,” Mario Hamlin, Executive director of the Chasing M’s Foundation, said. “The support we’ve received is a reflection of the person Damar is. Damar started the Chasing M’s Foundation to be used as a vehicle to give back to the people who helped him get to where he is today and lift up the next generation of youth.”

With the fund now reaching an unimaginable $8.6 million peak, Hamlin expressed that he plans to redistribute the money to support youth through education and sports. Along with the online foundation, an additional goal has been set to raise funds for the Cincinnati Trauma Center, the hospital that treated him. He plans to raise these funds by selling merchandise featuring the phrase “did we win?”, the question Hamlin asked when he awoke in the hospital. Hamlin is now connected to a nonprofit organization titled the Giving Back Fund, a philanthropic resource that helps athletes and celebrities manage their charity projects. As of now, Hamlin is continuing to recover and has been discharged from the Cincinnati hospital. 

“We have completed a series of tests and evaluations, and in consultation with the team physicians, we are confident that Damar can be safely discharged to continue his rehabilitation at home with the Bills,” MD and critical care physician Jamie Nadler said.