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Damar Hamlin accepts NFLPA community award

Damar Hamlin has been fairly quiet since his scary collapse on the field during Monday Night Football in early January. Since being released from the hospital he made a few appearances to support the Buffalo Bills in the playoffs.

He also emerged during Super Bowl LVII events including the NFLPA press conference where Hamlin received the 2023 Alan Page Community Award. In recognition, the NFLPA will donate $100,000 to Hamlin’s Chasing M’s Foundation.

“Being recognized for the NFLPA Alan Page Community Award is humbling and a dream come true,” Hamlin said. “I’m humbled to even be mentioned amongst those guys. I’ve always wanted to impact my community and show that it’s possible to do great things. With this award, we’ll be able to impact even more people and keep this mission going.”

Receiving this honor marks the latest chapter in Hamlin’s inspiring, miraculous journey on and off the football field. While most know the name “Damar Hamlin” in connection to the in-game cardiac arrest that he suffered on January 2, the Buffalo Bills safety has long served as a pillar of servant leadership and philanthropy, dating back to his days as NFL prospect.

As the COVID-19 pandemic raged on in 2020 and Hamlin trained in hopes of hearing his name called in the following year’s NFL Draft, the then-University of Pittsburgh standout player launched the Chasing M’s Foundation through a GoFundMe page.

His goal was to raise $2,500 for camps, toy drives, back-to-school events and other initiatives that would create a positive, lasting impact on the Pennsylvania community that helped raise him. The “M” stood for the “millions” of people, scholarships and other avenues by which he hoped to make a difference.

Ten days after the page went up, Hamlin put together his first event – a holiday toy drive that saw donated gifts and clothing distributed to underserved kids in the Pittsburgh area. Even with limited resources and even as his football career took him to Buffalo after being drafted by the Bills in the sixth round of the 2021 NFL Draft, Hamlin’s commitment to his initial cause has never wavered.

This past December, Hamlin hosted his third annual Community Toy Drive in Pittsburgh, marking his biggest event yet as there were plenty of gifts, activities and smiles to go around for the kids and families in attendance.

Because of Hamlin’s long-standing commitment to giving back, the pieces were already in place for his foundation to accept the groundswell of support and more than nine million dollars in donations that poured into his foundation following his Jan. 2 cardiac arrest. For this, Hamlin was selected as this season’s Week 18 NFLPA Community MVP, making him eligible for the prestigious award he received on at Super Bowl.

As the NFLPA’s highest honor, the Alan Page Community Award annually recognizes one player who demonstrates a profound dedication to postively impacting his team’s city and communities across the country, following in the spirit of the Pro Football Hall of Famer and social pioneer for whom the award is named.

As an award for the players and by the players, each year’s winner is selected by their NFL peers, who cast their vote for one of the award’s five finalists via electronic ballot.

Since 2014, the NFLPA Community MVP program has honored one player each week during the regular season for his outreach efforts. Each of the 18 NFLPA Community MVPs is awarded $10,000 for his foundation or charity of choice and commits to making a virtual or in-person visit to a school or children’s hospital as a way to encourage their youngest fans.

The winners also become eligible for the NFLPA Alan Page Community Award, whose five finalists are determined by an external committee of judges across labor, media and charity as well as a digital fan vote.