Pittsburgh shows support for McKees Rocks native, Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin

PITTSBURGH — When Buffalo Bills defensive back Damar Hamlin went down in the first quarter of the Bills’ Monday Night Football game versus the Cincinnati Bengals, 65,000 fans in the stadium in Cincinnati held their breath.

But in Pittsburgh, the impact was even stronger.

“I saw it on my TV, everyone standing there praying, you know, the first thing you look for is move your hands and feet and he really wasn’t at that time,” said Terry Totten, the recently-retired football coach at Central Catholic High School, who coached Hamlin and was watching Monday’s game.

“They announced they were pausing the game and then they said they were postponing it because the players were too big of a mess and I was like, ‘Wow, I’ve never seen that,’” said Pastor James Hogan, of Faithbridge Community Church, in Hamlin’s hometown of McKees Rocks. He has known Hamlin since he was seven.

“Frankly, McKees Rocks needs the victory of him getting through this,” said Hogan. “He’s already a victory for this town. We all celebrate him. But we certainly don’t want that to stop now.”

Hamlin was a standout player and 2015 state champion at Central Catholic High School before going on to great success at Pitt and now with the Buffalo Bills, starting in just his second season.

“He embraced his community of McKees Rocks. He embraced the community of Central Catholic. He embraced the community at the University of Pittsburgh. He has represented all of us tremendously well,” said Totten.

That’s why for many, this traumatic incident hits even harder.

“It’s a gut punch, especially when you see something like this happen to such a genuine person,” said Central Catholic Communication Director and fellow alum Brian Cook.

On Tuesday afternoon, Hamlin’s family released a statement:

Immediately after the NFL stopped and later postponed Monday night’s game, support for Hamlin began pouring in on social media, along with donations for Hamlin’s charity.

The GoFundMe raising money for toys to give to children in Stowe Township jumped by more than three million dollars in just a matter of hours.

“It’s amazing that people want to find someway that they support him,” said Hogan. “Hopefully, he and his family, and the people running that fundraiser, are going to find some really great things to do with it and hopefully he’s going to be at the helm of that with a smile on his face.”

Hamlin’s support system is asking for prayers throughout this difficult time.

You can donate to his charity here: https://www.gofundme.com/f/mxksc-the-chasing-ms-foundation-community-toy-drive

The Buffalo Bills gave an update on Hamlin’s status on Tuesday, saying that he remains in critical condition.

The NFL said that the Bills-Bengals game will not be resumed this week.

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