Buffalo’s Damar Hamlin named week 18 NFLPA Community MVP

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Damar Hamlin has been named this season’s Week 18 NFLPA Community MVP after he hosted his fourth toy drive benefiting 750 kids in Pittsburgh.

Dressed as Santa Claus, the Buffalo Bills defender distributed more than 2,000 toys, 50 bikes and hundreds of books while taking pictures and signing autographs for the waves of children who filed into the local gym to meet their hometown hero.

“It is an incredible honor to be recognized by the NFLPA on behalf of the Chasing M’s Foundation,” said Hamlin, who also earned Week 18 NFLPA Community MVP honors last season. “The inspiration for my charity came from the generosity of tens of thousands of people, from all over the world, who donated to support my journey after experiencing cardiac arrest.”

Damar Hamlin, #3, collapsed on the field after making a tackle during a game on January 2, 2023. Dylan Buell via Getty Images/File

The traumatic events at the start of 2023, when Hamlin collapsed on the football field after experiencing an in-game cardiac arrest, and the outpouring of support that followed in donations paved the way for him to host the type of giveback event he had always wanted for the community that raised him. And in that time, the mission of his foundation has expanded to include CPR education, advocating for access to AEDs in schools and recreation centers, and a new scholarship fund for Cincinnati youth in honor of the medical team that helped save his life.

Hamlin’s long-standing commitment to making a difference in the lives of so many, particularly the younger generation, stretches back to his college days at Pitt. In 2020, he started a GoFundMe with a goal of raising $2,500 to host his first toy donation drive at his mom’s daycare center. As accolades like the 2023 NFLPA Alan Page Community Award rolled in and the spotlight grew exponentially over the past year, Hamlin’s passion for giving back and inspiring others never changed, fueling his every move as a philanthropist, entrepreneur, community servant-leader and athlete.

“I’m blessed to carry this vision forward, as we work to educate people about the importance of learning CPR and having access to AEDs to save lives,” Hamlin said. “Together, we are working to lift up youth and inspire people who face adversity — and we are just getting started.”

In honor of Hamlin being named this week’s Community MVP, the NFLPA is making a $10,000 contribution to his foundation or charity of choice. In turn, Hamlin will take part in a virtual or in-person visit to a school or children’s hospital. Along with the other 2023-24 Community MVPs, he will also become eligible for this year’s Alan Page Community Award, which is the highest honor that the NFLPA can bestow upon a player.   

Now in its 10th season, the Community MVP campaign is part of the NFLPA’s continued efforts to support the year-round, civic outreach and engagement of its player members. Please visit the NFLPA Community MVP website to learn more about the program.  

2023-24 NFLPA Community MVP winners:

Week 1: Alexander Mattison, Minnesota Vikings

Week 2: Bijan Robinson, Atlanta Falcons

Week 3: Justin Hardee, New York Jets

Week 4. Frank Ragnow, Detroit Lions

Week 5: Arik Armstead, San Francisco 49ers

Week 6: Emmanuel Ogbah, Miami Dolphins

Week 7: Calais Campbell, Atlanta Falcons

Week 8: Cam Heyward, Pittsburgh Steelers

Week 9: Kayvon Thibodeaux, New York Giants

Week 10: Saquon Barkley, New York Giants

Week 11: Jalen Pitre, Houston Texans

Week 12: Jeffery Simmons, Tennessee Titans

Week 13: Lawrence Guy, New England Patriots

Week 14: Pat Surtain II, Denver Broncos

Week 15: Harrison Phillips, Minnesota Vikings

Week 16: Tyrel Dodson, Buffalo Bills

Week 17: Charles Leno Jr., Washington Commanders

Week 18: Damar Hamlin, Buffalo Bills

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