Following the American football player Damar Hamlin’s collapse on the field during a game on Monday, donations to a toy campaign he started in 2020 have skyrocketed.
By Tuesday night, the toy campaign had raised almost $5.6 million (£4.7 million).
Toys for underprivileged kids in McKees Rocks, Pennsylvania—hometown—were Hamlin’s purchased with funds from the inaugural drive.
Hamlin experienced a heart episode during the game and is still in critical condition.
Hamlin’s condition was “moving upwards,” according to his uncle Dorrian Glen, who spoke to CNN on Tuesday, although he remained unconscious and on a ventilator.
Glen claimed that Hamlin was “healthy as an ox” and had no known pre-existing heart conditions, therefore the emergency had surprised the family.
He revealed that his nephew had to be flipped on his stomach to relieve pressure on his lungs and had to undergo resuscitation twice—once on the field and once in the hospital.
After stunned NFL viewers saw the 24-year-old Buffalo Bills safety collapse to the ground on Monday night, nine minutes into a game against the Cincinnati Bengals, following a brutal contact with another player, donations to Hamlin’s fundraising came in as it resurfaced online.
The NFL said that the game would not be resumed this week and that it would be suspended for the evening.
Hamlin’s family expressed gratitude to the public for the donations as well as for their “prayers” and “kind thoughts” in a statement on Tuesday.
In response to the love and support given to Damar at this trying time, they remarked, “We want to express our profound gratitude.”
In the hours since the GoFundMe fundraising was launched two years ago by Hamlin’s nonprofit, the Chasing M Foundation, more than 191,000 people had contributed.
The charity’s initial 2020 campaign goal of $2,500 has already been more than doubled by the drive’s current total of $2000.
Hamlin’s family stated in a post on the GoFundMe website that the fundraising, which was first started to help support a neighborhood toy drive, is now the place to “donate to Damar’s community projects and his current fight.”
They said, “His Chasing M Foundation supports toy drives, back-to-school fundraising events, kids camps, and more.”
After beginning the fundraising during the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, Hamlin ran a toy drive for the third year in a row during the 2022 Christmas season, according to his Instagram account.
Hamlin declared his 2022 toy drive a “success” in a post on December 25 and included a video of him handing the toys to children.
According to the GoFundMe page, Hamlin claimed he made the decision to start the toy drive because he was dedicated to “using my position to positively benefit the community that reared me.”
People have “the opportunity to contribute to our first project and positively benefit children who have been most affected by the pandemic” through the campaign, according to Hamlin.
The GoFundMe received a boost in support from the fundraising platform itself, which on Monday night after the event on the field linked to it on Twitter.
Hamlin is a second-year player who played college football in his native state at the University of Pittsburgh before being selected by the Buffalo Bills in 2021.
Hamlin started every Buffalo Bills game this season, with the exception of two, after playing as a reserve during his first season.