PHOENIX — Dressed in a deep red suit, Damar Hamlin strolled without difficulty to the podium.
The Buffalo Bills safety who suffered cardiac arrest during a Jan. 2 Monday Night Football game was conscious, breathing, walking and articulate.
“It’s a blessing,” he began one of his favorite quotes, “to be a blessing.”
He was in Phoenix at Super Bowl week to accept the NFLPA’s Alan Page Community Award, the culmination of season-wide community MVPs the union selects to recognize a player each week who has “demonstrated a commitment to making a positive impact in his community.”
Hamlin will receive a $100,000 donation, courtesy of the NFLPA, to donate to his foundation or a charity of his choice.
That’s in addition to the $10,000 each of five finalists received. Hamlin was a finalist alongside New England Patriots cornerback Jonathan Jones, Washington Commanders left tackle Charles Leno Jr., Las Vegas Raiders tight end Darren Waller and Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Devin White.
Damar Hamlin’s acceptance speech: “It’s a blessing to be a blessing.”
Says he’ll never take for granted his platform to help others. His foundation has raised more than $9 million to support toy drives, kids camp & more in local community. pic.twitter.com/KngeqDieQ0
— Jori Epstein (@JoriEpstein) February 8, 2023
Hamlin’s Chasing M’s Foundation raised more than $9 million in the wake of his cardiac arrest, as donations flooded in from across the country to the GoFundMe he initially organized in 2020. Donations supported toy drives, back-to-school drives, kids camps and more.
Hamlin also organized a fundraiser for the University of Cincinnati Medical Center after its physicians treated him with after his cardiac arrest.
“Giving back to my community has also been a big part of who I am,” Hamlin said Wednesday in Phoenix. “I’m thankful to my father who is right here behind me. Growing up watching him do community days in our community, I just always was waiting on my time when it came.
“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.”