By JOHN MARSHALL
PHOENIX (AP) — Damar Hamlin made a brief appearance in Phoenix during Super Bowl week to receive the NFLPA’s Alan Page Community Award.
The Buffalo Bills safety received the award at the Phoenix Convention Center on Wednesday, a little over a month after he went into cardiac arrest and needed to be resuscitated on the field in Cincinnati.
“One of my favorite quotes: it’s a blessing to be a blessing,” Hamlin said, reading from a brief statement with his parents on stage with him. “With that being said, I plan to never take this position for granted and always have an urgent approach to making a difference in the community where I come from and also communities across the world.”
Hamlin was one of five finalists for the Alan Page Award, which annually recognizes one player who goes above and beyond to perform community service in his team city and/or hometown. His foundation received $100,000 with the award.
“He is not only an individual who has overcome a tremendous amount, he’s not only a person who reminds us just how dangerous this game is, but also the spirit, the love, the joy, the fraternity of people who play this game,” NFLPA executive director Demaurice Smith said.
Hamlin’s toy drive fundraiser received unexpected GoFundMe donations in the days and weeks after he collapsed. Chasing M’s has since raised more than $9 million.
“Giving back to my community has always been a part of who I am,” Hamlin said. “I’m thankful for my father, who’s right here behind me, growing up watching him doing community days in our community. I always was waiting on my time when it came.”
Hamlin collapsed on the field after a collision with a Cincinnati Bengals player and had to be resuscitated before being taken away by ambulance. He spent nearly a week in a Cincinnati hospital before being flown to Buffalo, where he spent a couple of days in the hospital before being released on Jan. 11.
Hamlin started visiting the Bills’ facility shortly after that and attended Buffalo’s divisional game against Cincinnati, receiving a rousing ovation when he was shown on the video board.
He still faces a long recovery. Hamlin’s marketing representative Jordon Rooney said on Jan. 20 that the 24-year-old was still requiring oxygen and regular heart monitoring to ensure there are no setbacks.