After Buffalo Bills’ safety Damar Hamlin suffered a cardiac arrest on the football field on January 2, you saw some of the worst of humanity. Some people immediately tried to exploit the incident and push their anti-vaccination agendas with baseless claims, as I covered for Forbes on January 3. Fortunately, many others have shown the opposite: actual humanity. This ranged from the medical personnel who rushed to Hamlin’s aid, saving his life, to the fans who have held candlelight vigils for the 24-year-old football player. Then there’s what’s happened to the GoFundMe page that was created by Hamlin and his team on December 14, 2020. “The Chasing M's Foundation Community Toy Drive” GoFundMe page originally had a fundraising goal of $2,500. Well, it’s since exceeded that goal by a little bit. That’s a $8,080,460 little bit and counting. Yeah, as of 9 pm, on January 6, this page has raised $8,082,960.
It isn’t every day that you see a fundraiser beat its goal by over 3000 percent. But what Hamlin had suffered wasn’t something that you see every day either, despite anti-vaxxer claims. He collapsed on the Paycor Stadium football field after suffering a blow to his chest during the Bills’ Monday Night Football matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals. A team, including Bills assistant athletic trainer Denny Kellington, had to administer cardiopulmonary resuscitation to get his heart pumping blood again before rushing him off to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center where he was initially listed as in critical condition, relying on a breathing tube to breathe.
Robert Griffin III, the NFL’s Offensive Rookie of the Year in 1999, called Kellington a “REAL LIFE HERO,” crediting him with performing the life-saving CPR in the following tweet:
The Chasing M’s GoFundMe page originally had nothing to do with this medical incident. As the page indicates, “This fundraiser was initially established to support a toy drive for Damar’s community, sponsored by the Chasing M’s Foundation.” It also states that, “Damar created The Chasing M’s Foundation to use as a vehicle to bring lasting impact to his community. The foundation supports toy drives, back-to-school drives, kids camps, and more.” Nevertheless, there’s been a surge of donations since Hamlin’s heart essentially stopped on Monday night. Donors to date have included a number of football teams, team owners, and players such as “Jim Irsay & Indianapolis Colts” who co-topped the list with a $25,003 donation. Robert Kraft and The New England Patriots offered $18,003. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers donated $15,000. And Matthew Stafford, presumably the Los Angeles Rams quarterback, pledged $12,000.
The list includes a number of fantasy football leagues and players too. For example, The Drunkest Men We Know Fantasy Football League donated $100.
There have also been plenty of others who didn’t indicate a specific tie to football. For example, the other top donor so far has been the Sheets Laundry Club, who tossed in much more than three sheets to the wind, donating $25,003. Then there was the $10,033 from Everyone at Finger Lakes Financial Services, Inc., not just some of them but everyone. And you’ve got to relish the fact that the Oscar Meyer Weiner Lovers chipped in $214 because frankly every donation added to the total. Lots of others donated anonymously as well.
Meanwhile, earlier yesterday, the Buffalo Bills had posted a couple very promising tweets about Hamlin, who has been hospitalized at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center since Monday. The first tweet at 10:10 am relayed that “Damar’s breathing tube was removed overnight. He continues to progress remarkably in his recovery.” It also indicated that “His neurologic function remains intact and he has been able to talk to his family and care team,” as you can see here:
Then 14 minutes later, another tweet from the Buffalo Bills mentioned that Hamlin had FaceTimed into a Buffalo Bills team meeting:
Fortunately, that’s a very different picture from what everyone in Paycor Stadium and watching Monday Night Football on TV saw on January 2. It’s still not clear what led to Hamlin’s cardiac arrest. There are still a range of possible things that could have happened. Only the medical doctors directly taking care of Hamlin will be able to eventually tell what really occurred.
So, to the TV and radio personalities and hundreds of social media accounts that quickly tried to link Hamlin’s condition to Covid-19 vaccines without providing any real scientific evidence, perhaps instead you could show some actual humanity. Rather than use the incident to push your agenda, do something that really helps Hamlin, his family, or the real medical and health professionals that have been taking care of Hamlin. Or the many public health and medical professionals that have actually been battling the Covid-19 pandemic. One thing the Covid-19 pandemic has certainly shown is how many people in our society have humanity and how people lack it.