Heartfelt gesture goes a long way after Hamlin’s horrifying collapse

Sports

(NewsNation) — Buffalo native Madeline Hall will never forget the moment she arrived at Cincinnati’s Paycor Stadium the night Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin collapsed on the field after suffering from cardiac arrest.

“The second it happened, I had my grandma texting me, my uncle texted me, my mom, my dad, everyone asking, you know, what was going on?” Hall, the owner of BFS Brand, said during an appearance on NewsNation’s “Prime.” “It was a surreal moment for everyone.”

Hamlin received life-saving CPR from a team of medical personnel on the field and was then transported to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center.

“We’re walking up the stairs, and then we get to around our seats. And it’s silent,” Hall said, remembering the incident. “We don’t know, of course, the extent of his injuries, but the entire Bills team is out on the field right now. Several players are down on their knees.”

Hall, like the rest of the country, felt compelled to help.

“I just had this epiphany, and I was like, well, I drop food off all the time to essential workers in Buffalo. I’m like, why wouldn’t I do that here?”

Hall’s company, BFS Brand, a local food blog and clothing line, frequently donates a portion of its proceeds to provide meals for health care workers in Buffalo.

She decided to stay a few more days in Cincinnati — crashing on a blow-up mattress at her friend’s place. She knew exactly how to help.

On the Tuesday after the incident, Hall reached out to the Thurman Thomas Family Foundation, a charity run by legendary Bills running back Thomas and his wife, to ask if they’d go in on donating food to the University of Cincinnati hospital health care workers, doctors and paramedics fighting to save Hamlin’s life, and dozens of others.

“Within an hour, we had a caterer. We had the money, and I had the, you know, I got in contact with the ICU,” Hall said. “They said that they would love the food. And from there it was just history and then the outpour was just insane.”

According to Hall, local restaurants also jumped on board to help.

Venmo payments from friends and strangers started flowing in. In all, over $2,000 was collected in eight hours.

Since Tuesday, Hall has helped deliver more than 400 meals to staff, a small gesture that she says put her on a cloud nine of happiness. The love — and compassion — blew her away.

“Those nurses and doctors, they just, they worked so hard, and you’re having a hot meal. … to them it’s like the golden ticket,” Hall said. “You know, they were so thankful for that.”

Hamlin continues to improve, making remarkable progress, according to his care team. He’s now breathing on his own and even FaceTimed into a Friday team meeting.

“Hair on the back of my neck stood up when he said, ‘I love you boys, man'” said Buffalo Bills general manager Brandon Beane. “And the room went nuts. It was just, it was, it was awesome.”

Hall continues to stay in touch with hospital staff, even though she’s back in Buffalo. She said Hamlin’s injury and recovery brought people together in a manner she had never experienced before. Football and rivalries took a seat on the bench, everyone cheering for No. 3. It brings tears to her eyes.

“I feel like we got a sense of a Buffalo community, and people really needed each other,” Hall said, “And so, yeah, it was terrible, what happened, but you always try to look at the bright side of everything.”

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