As Buffalo Bills safety Damar Handlin continues to fight for his life, fans of the player are showing support by pouring money into a charity he set up to purchase toys for children impacted by the pandemic, long before he was a household name 

As of 10:15 a.m. ET, donations to the GoFundMe have topped $6.2 million. And the once-humble charity drive has expanded its focus. 

“Damar created The Chasing M’s Foundation to use as a vehicle to bring lasting impact to his community,” the site now reads. “The foundation supports toy drives, back-to-school drives, kids camps, and more.”

NFL players and business leaders have been major supporters of the foundation as well. Robert Kraft and the New England Patriots organization have donated a bit more than $18,000. Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford pledged $12,000. Tom Brady and Broncos QB Russell Wilson have both given $10,000. And Jason Hanold, CEO of Hanold Associates Executive Search, a company that helps sports teams (and others) find front office personnel, donated $20,000. 

There are, of course, risks with a grassroots charity suddenly becoming a multi-million dollar organization. Bookkeeping and accountability become much more onerous tasks and there are potential tax implications, as the amount rises. None of this, of course, should stop people from giving, but the organization’s operations have certainly become more complicated due to the largess. 

Hamlin started the toy drive in 2020 to help children in his hometown of McRees Rocks, Pa. The toys were distributed at a local daycare center in December 2020, but the GoFundMe remained open. It’s unclear if the foundation has 501c3 status (meaning it has been recognized by the IRS as tax-exempt due to its charitable work).

Hamlin remains in critical condition Wednesday after suffering cardiac arrest during Monday night’s NFL game against the Cincinnati Bengals. He is on a ventilator and sedated. An uncle disclosed that his heart had to be restarted both on the field and when he arrived at the hospital 

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