Damar Hamlin recognized with the Alan Page Community Award
Buffalo is not Los Angeles, Chicago, or Miami, it isn’t even Dallas or Minneapolis. The NFL is filled with teams in major cities – huge markets with regional presence due to their sheer size and the amenities they offer. Buffalo is more of a small town with a huge base. Season ticket holders drive hours to tailgate before preseason games, bringing together a diverse and passionate fanbase unlike any in sports.
The Bills have a meaningful and widespread impact on Western New York that extends far beyond football – from the local influence in Buffalo and the surrounding communities to the preseason presence in Rochester, to the pride of fans throughout New York who know (and make known) who the only NFL team in New York truly is.
And the Bills impact on the Buffalo area may never have been bigger than in 2022. Returning to St. John Fisher College for preseason following the Covid-19 pandemic brought a sense of normalcy to an entire region. The leadership of Bills players and staff following the mass shooting in May of 2022 helped a shattered community heal. The visibility and community spirit shown by Bills players as a snowstorm moved a game to Detroit, and a Blizzard shut down the city in December inspired and motivated many.
Yet throughout a year filled with tragedy, loss, disasters and the grieving and healing that followed, there may not have been a more moving or captivating story than Damar Hamlin. The NFL stood still following the terrifying scene in Cincinnati when Damar Hamlin collapsed on the field, after suffering cardiac arrest during a game against the Bengals. Hamlin has yet to return to football activities, and he still has a long rehab process to go through before determining whether he will return to competitive football at all. Yet the impact of this young man in the weeks that followed the scary incident in Cincinnati has been incredible.
Nearly immediately, during the early stages of his recovery, Hamlin expressed the desire to take his platform that he has been given and make sure that it was not wasted. He set forth to continue making a difference, and in doing so embodied the spirit of the Buffalo Bills – a unique blend of resiliency and determination that inspires and captivates beyond football.
Hamlin’s toy drive fundraiser has received an influx of over $8.6 million to support young people through education and sports. Hamlin himself applied for several copyrights including the slogan “Did We Win?” which he asked his nurse when he regained consciousness in the hospital – the proceeds of sales from these shirts are going to the trauma center in Cincinnati where Hamlin was treated.
Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin wins Alan Page Community Award
On February 8, Hamlin was named the NFLPA Alan Page Community Award winner which recognizes one player who goes above and beyond to perform community service in his team city and/or hometown. The $100,000 award is reportedly going to his Chasing M’s foundation. During his acceptance, Hamlin said “Giving back to the community has always been a big part of who I am. I’m thankful to my father who is right here behind me, growing up and just watching him do community days in our community. I just was always waiting on my time when it came.”
Dr. Thom Mayer, the medical director for the NFL Players Association said recently: “I guarantee you that Damar Hamlin will play professional football again,”. Whether that is accurate, Hamlin has inspired people around the country with his resiliency, determination, and heart.
His continuing impact off the field – bringing awareness to the need for CPR training, inspiring others to drive change and improve the lives of those in the communities around him – will leave a lasting legacy that has earned him this recognition and a special place in the hearts of Buffalo fans everywhere.