Damar Hamlin’s Generous Scholarship Program Honors Lifesavers

Damar Hamlin, a Buffalo Bills safety, used his team’s weekend trip to Cincinnati to thank the 10 medical personnel who worked to save his life last January.

“Last night I had dinner with my heroes,” Hamlin said on X, formerly Twitter.

The NFL player welcomed the medical personnel for supper at Cincinnati’s Jeff Ruby’s Steakhouse, but he had more in store.

“I surprised them with a scholarship named after each of them that will support youth in Cincy to chase their dreams,” Hamlin said on Sunday.

“Wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for them!” he added.

When Hamlin, 25, slumped on the field during a game at the Bengals’ Paycor Stadium on Jan. 2, he required emergency attention. The ten men and women at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center assisted Hamlin on the field, in the operating room, and during his rehabilitation.

In their honor, Hamlin and his Chasing M’s charity will grant $1,000 scholarships to ten underserved young people in the Cincinnati region, with the goal of assisting adolescents who wish to attend private high schools, local trade schools, or colleges. The initiative will operate for the next three years.

Hamlin himself benefited from a scholarship in Pennsylvania that opened a path for him to attend a private school in Pittsburgh and use his football talents to launch successful careers in college and the NFL.

“Damar continues to surprise and inspire us,” UC Health said in response to the scholarship announcement. “We were honored to spend last night with him!”

Sunday’s game was the Bills’ first in Cincinnati since Hamlin’s collapse caused officials to call a halt to the game. He greeted Bengals’ Tee Higgins and other players as he ran onto the field for warmups.

On January 2, Hamlin was tackling Higgins when he was smacked hard in the chest. Hamlin slumped on the ground when he tried to walk. On the field, emergency personnel were able to restore his heartbeat.

Following the game on Sunday night, Hamlin returned to the field alone, crouching near the Bengals’ emblem at midfield.

“Tonight was everything for me,” he said, “y’all don’t know the half of it. Trust me.”

Hamlin has only played in one game this season, but he has kept busy: this summer, his foundation joined the American Heart Association on a CPR Tour, visiting Buffalo, Pittsburgh, and Cincinnati to provide free CPR training to hundreds of people and distribute automated external defibrillators, or AEDs, to youth sports groups.

According to the Mayo Clinic, sudden cardiac arrest is the greatest cause of mortality among young athletes, although being significantly less common than in the overall population. Causes might range from inherited problems to commotio cordis, a hard chest hit that causes cardiac arrest.

People far outside the NFL’s core supporters were moved by Hamlin’s terrifying collapse, and millions of people cheered his recovery. It also piqued Hamlin’s interest in his charitable work; even in college, he set up a GoFundMe campaign to raise funds for a toy drive for children in his hometown outside of Pittsburgh.

More than $9 million in donations to the fund have come in, from more than 22,000 sources.

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