Damar Hamlin: Thank You, Buffalo

Updated: Mar. 13, 2024

In this touching letter, Damar Hamlin reflects on the support he's received from the Buffalo community, 2023's Nicest Place in America

Damar Hamlin attends a CPR training event organized by his Chasing M’s Foundation.Rob Marczynski/Buffalo Bills
Damar Hamlin attends a CPR training event organized by his Chasing M’s Foundation, which provides automated external defibrillators (AEDs) for youth sports and community groups.

Since the day that I was blessed to be drafted to play football for the Bills, the ­people of Buffalo have embraced me and lifted up my heart.

I didn’t know much about this city before then, and at every turn, Buffalo has delivered.

It’s not just the passion of the Bills Mafia on game day, or even the wings.It’s the people and the way they lift up one another, even before tragedy struck.

Over the past few years, this city has seen so many hard times and so much pain. A shooting that horrified the world, taking lives and stealing dreams. An unimaginable blizzard that brought so much fear. A tragic fire that took young lives. Loss after loss, the challenges seemed to just keep coming. The people of Buffalo have experienced the kind of pain that could have broken them.

But it hasn’t.

Damar Hamlin attends a CPR training event organized by his Chasing M’s Foundation.Rob Marczynski/Buffalo Bills

Today, when I’m at home in Buffalo, I meet people full of hope and determination. I see aBuffalo that has chosento come together rather than fall apart. I see why Buffalo is known as the City of Good Neighbors.

Healing takes time, and I see people whohave stayed united and are finding a way to move ­forward, together. People who step out of their homes to help a neighbor, volunteer and just keep going. And that strength has helped to lift up my own experience.

The people of Buffalo continue to show the world what resilience looks like, and that inspired me during my toughest moments in the hospital, after experiencing cardiac arrest on the field. During that challenging time, my family and I felt the love from this city. As I was healing, every day I received cards and letters, artwork from school kids and news about people praying and supporting us.I saw images of people wearing my number in support.

Buffalo’s love for me came to life for my family and me in so many ways.I really don’t know if I can find the words to explain what it means to me as I heal. But I am certain that Buffalo’s show of resilience is part of what inspired me during my darkest hours.

Damar Hamlin back on the field with his teamBill Wippert/Courtesy Buffalo Bills
Back on the field with his team

On the day I was drafted, my little brother, who was 6 at the time, said, “Damar, do they have beaches there?”I told him, “No, brother, we are going to Buffalo.”

There isn’t a beach in the world that I would trade for the gift I’ve been given to become part of this community and feel its warm embrace. The people of this great city inspire me to keep praying, keep loving, keep going­, no matter what the circumstances. To count my blessings and just show up every day with love.

As I look forward, I’m grateful to call this city home, and it will always hold a special place in my heart. Buffalo is a city of fighters, and I’m proud to be one of them.

. . .

Editor’s note: Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin experienced cardiac arrest during an NFL game against the Cincinnati Bengals on Jan. 2, 2023,as the world watched. Since then, his charity, Chasing M’s Foundation, has received donations from generous people all over the world, helping him to fulfill his mission of helping kids with camps, toy drives, back-to-school drives and more. Go to chasingmsfoundation.com to join Hamlin’s journey.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest