Carlton man starts GoFundMe to show love for Bengal in play with Damar Hamlin

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 6 January 2023 at 9:26 pm

$50K-plus raised so far for foundation that supports ALS patients and their families, funds ALS research

Provided photo: Kyle Holz likes the excitement of the Buffalo Bills on the field and their compassion for each other and the community off the field.

CARLTON – Kyle Holz was amazed to see the donations pour in for a fundraiser started by Damar Hamlin of the Buffalo Bills.

Hamlin previously set up a GoFundMe with a goal of $2,500 for a toy drive in the Pittsburgh area. After Hamlin was critically injured on Monday Night Football, the GoFundMe quickly reached $1 million with donations from all over the country. Then it topped $2 million, $5 million and now is just over $8 million.

Holz was watching the Buffalo Bills game on TV on Monday night when Hamlin tackled Tee Higgins, a powerful Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver who has topped 1,000 yards each of the past two seasons.

The two players had a violent collision on field, and Hamlin, the Bills safety, managed to pull Higgins to the turf. Hamlin got to his feet and then collapsed seconds later. He was in cardiac arrest and needed CPR and a defibrillator to be revived on the field.

Hamlin was taken by ambulance to a Cincinnati hospital. The game didn’t resume after that play and won’t be continued. Hamlin is doing much better four days later. His breathing tube has been removed and he is communicating by voice. He is on the right path for recovery, his doctors said.

Holz was moved when he saw the donations for Hamlin’s GoFundMe, and the outpouring of support from the country for the injured Bills player.

But he also was disturbed to see some people were directing hate and blame to Higgins.

“I felt God leading me to start one (a GoFundMe) to show some love to Tee Higgins,” Holz said.

Holz set up a GoFundMe, with donations that would show support for Higgins while benefitting a cause dear to the player. Higgins during a game last month wore cleats in honor of Axe ALS. The father of Higgins’ agent died from ALS, The Buffalo News reported.

The donations so far have passed $55,000. Holz said he has received many messages from Bengals fans in appreciation for the fundraiser and outreach to Higgins.

Hamlins’ parents have issued a statement asking people to not blame Higgins. Josh Allen, the Bills quarterback, also said Higgins bears no fault or responsibility for the play.

Higgins spoke on Thursday that he was greatly relieved to see improvement in Hamlin’s condition.

“Everything’s OK. He’s doing good, so I’m in a good place right now,” Higgins told reporters on Thursday. “It feels good knowing that he’s OK and doing better makes me feel better inside.”

Holz said the Bills players’ concern for their teammate and the care they’ve showed each other in recent days makes him an even bigger supporter of the team.

“I was a Bills fan because they are so exciting to watch,” Holz said. “Recently with everything that had happened, they showed that they are human and feel more like family than anything. The whole team feels like family.”