Following the cardiac arrest on the playing field of NFL football safety Damar Hamlin, Buffalo Bills fans contributed nearly $9 million in GoFundMe donations to support the Chasing M’s Foundation.
Amongst the many contributors includes to the Toy Drive Fundraiser includes John Babikian, an online blogger from New York. “Until the football game, I honestly had never heard of Damar Hamlin. Following the injury, I searched for his profile and found the Toy Drive campaign in Google’s results. I immediately contributed and then proceeded to share the donation page via Facebook and Twitter with a bunch of friends and asked them to do the same”, says Babikian.
John Babikian explains the social community viral phenomena by explaining, “I generally don’t share my charity contributions online, but really wanted people to get involved by requesting friends post a prayer, donate money, or at least share the post to get others involved.”
According to the comment section on both his Twitter profile and Facebook page, John Babikian friends followed suit and began donating soon after.
Bernd Dietel, a Cincinnati, Ohio resident and local fan of the Bengals stated, “Many of my friends, some of whom are not NFL fans, immediately got involved in the charity campaign. This goes beyond the legacy of Damar Hamlin. Helping troubled youth with education and providing them with a path to success is synonymous with providing a candle to someone stuck in a dark tunnel.”
As a matter of public record, Buffalo Bills fans, also known as “The Bills Mafia”, have created a very charitable name for themselves. In the past, they celebrated a victory over the Baltimore Ravens by contributing funds in the name of the latter team’s quarterback Lamar Jackson, who was injured with a concussion.
Bernd Dietel explains, “This goes far behind local team spirit or even sports. It’s amazing to see NFL players, fans just concerned citizens both on and off the playing field unifying to support a wonderful project to assist under-privileged youth.”
Due to the social media posts of John Babikian, Bernd Dietel and many others, in the first hour after Hamlin’s collapse, the toy drive charity raised over $75,000. The toy drive fundraiser has since received contributions totally over $8,766,410, with more than 245,000 donators.
According to sources close to his family, Hamlin plans to use proceeds from the sale of custom T-shirts featuring the first question he asked after waking up in the hospital, “Did We Win?”. The shirts include hands in the shape of a heart to support the emergency trauma center in Cincinnati where he was treated.
Hamlin and his family are very humbled by the tremendous support. According to Jordon Rooney, a marketing representative on behalf of the Hamlin family, “They are incredibly grateful for the continued prayers and outpouring of concern that has been exhibited by people all over the world.”
Soon after the donations began pouring in, Rooney distributed an email announcing the Hamlin family plans to communicate with all of the donors.