Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin made one of his first live public appearances since collapsing on the field on January 2, appearing in Phoenix to accept a community service award.
Hamlin won the NFLPA Alan Page Community Award on February 8, taking the stage with his parents and sharing his desire to give back.
“Giving back to my community has always been a big part of who I am,” Hamlin said, via ESPN. “I’m thankful to my father, who’s right here behind me. Growing up, just watching him do community days in our community, and I just always was waiting on my time when it came.”
Damar Hamlin’s ‘Spirit’ Praised
In the days after his collapse on the field, Hamlin’s Chasing M’s Foundation raised more than $9 million as people from around the world showed their support. The NFLPA donated an additional $100,000 that came along with Hamlin’s service award, and NFLPA Executive Director Demaurice Smith shared some praise for the 24-year-old safety.
“He is not only an individual who has overcome a tremendous amount, he’s not only a person who reminds us just how dangerous this game is, but also the spirit, the love, the joy, the fraternity of people who play this game,” Smith said.
In a rare public appearance since collapsing in his team’s Week 17 game against the Cincinnati Bengals and spending nine days in the hospital, Hamlin said he wanted to do good with the resources his charity received in donations from around the world.
“One of my favorite quotes: It’s a blessing to be a blessing,” Hamlin said. “With that being said, I plan to never take this position for granted and always have an urgent approach in making a difference in the community where I come from and also communities across the world.”
Hamlin’s CPR Initiative Featured at Super Bowl
Hamlin has already started work in giving back, teaming up with the NFL and American Heart Association in an initiative that promotes free CPR education. In a video posted to his Instagram page, Hamlin introduced the initiative and challenged Tom Brady and LeBron James to take part.
“As you know, CPR saved my life earlier this year on the field. And CPR could easily save your life or someone you love,” Hamlin said.
The NFL picked up the effort and will be offering free CPR education in Phoenix during Super Bowl week, The Associated Press noted.
Bills assistant athletic trainer Denny Kellington earned praise for his quick work on January 2, performing CPR on Hamlin on the field before he was taken to the hospital. NFL executive Jim Miller told The Associated Press that the league wanted to take the opportunity to spread the word about the importance of knowing CPR.
“Coming out of the events from last month with Damar Hamlin on the field and the remarkable work that the emergency responders performed, we thought about what opportunities existed for us to share some of the learnings that came from that experience more broadly, which is part of our responsibility throughout the world of football and maybe the world of sports,” Miller said.