Prayers and concern for McKees Rocks native and Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin came in from across the country Monday night after he collapsed on the field during his team’s nationally televised game against the Cincinnati Bengals. 

At the same time, hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations poured into a GoFundMe fundraiser set up by Hamlin in 2020 that was intended to be used for a holiday toy drive.

The fundraiser, which sought $2,500 when Hamlin organized it, had surpassed $5.1 million by 7 p.m. Tuesday after receiving thousands of donations from football fans and other well-wishers. 

Many of those who donated to the fundraiser left prayers and messages of encouragement for Hamlin. Some, noting that Hamlin’s health was more important than a game, put aside their football allegiances for the evening.  

“Thoughts from Eagles fans. We hope for a speedy recovery. Much love from Philly,” one fan wrote.

“Ravens Flock, but tonight we’re all in the Bills Mafia. Pulling for you Damar,” said another fan. 

Hamlin wrote in the description of the GoFundMe page that he created the fundraiser to impact children in his community who were some of the most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The toy drive was held Dec. 22, 2020, at Kelly & Nina’s Daycare Center in Stowe. 

Organizers posted an update on the page Tuesday morning that read in part that the fundraiser “has received renewed support in light of Damar’s current battle and we can’t thank all of you enough. Your generosity and compassion mean the world to us.

“If you would like to show your support and contribute to Damar’s community initiatives and his current fight, this is the place to do so. This is the only current fund that is being used by the Hamlin Family.”

In addition to being a McKees Rocks native, Hamlin graduated from Central Catholic High School and the University of Pittsburgh. He was selected by the Bills in the sixth round of the 2021 NFL draft.

“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. “I created The Chasing M’s Foundation as a vehicle that will allow me to deliver that impact, and the first program is the 2020 Community Toy Drive.”

Andrew writes about education and more for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but he's currently on strike. Email him at

Andrew Goldstein

Andrew writes about education and more for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but he's currently on strike. Email him at