Stepping Up

I’m a football fan. I watch football every weekend. In fact, I was watching the game between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Buffalo Bills a week ago. I actually was watching when the Cincinnati Bengals’ player gave a legal push to Buffalo safety Damar Hamlin. Without paying much attention, I watched him go down to the ground. I halfheartedly watched him get up from the hit. I will admit that it wasn’t paying much attention when he got back up, and then fell back to the ground. It wasn’t until I noticed that the medical personnel were on the field that my attention was once again back on the game.

I don’t need to rehash what happened from that moment on. It is probably a story that will make the NFL history books. After all, the guy was apparently dead on the field, and was brought back to life by some very talented medical folks. The looks on the faces of Hamlin’s teammates will stay with me for awhile. The quarterback looked as shaken up as someone facing the grim reaper.

Thank goodness, Damar Hamlin has made a remarkable recovery, and seems to be on the road to a normal life. I can’t even begin to imagine what his mother must have felt as she watched her son fall to the ground and the medical personnel surrounded him. I nearly lost my mind when my son fractured his wrist in a soccer accident.

What struck me immediately, and has stuck with me for the past week, is how the nation responded to Hamlin’s injury. You’ve all heard by now that Hamlin’s little nonprofit — a toy drive for the kids from his hometown — has been the beneficiary of his near-tragedy. Hamlin’s goal was to raise $2,500 for his GoFundMe account has raised literally millions of dollars, most donated by people he has never met in his entire life.

This reaction to Hamlin’s misfortune is so typically American that it almost makes me cry. When trouble strikes, Americans respond. I remember following the Columbine High School shooting, the Powers That Be had to finally ask people to stop donating blood because, tragically, there were no survivors needing blood. When tragedy strikes, people just want to do something. Donating bottles of water when there is a shortage. Dropping off diapers when there are parents in need. Leaving cans of food or frozen food when there is a tornado or hurricane

I don’t know the first thing about Damar Hamlin. But given the love and support the whole NFL community is showing, I hope he is a good guy. Everything I read and hear about him indicate he is. I prayed for him following the incident on the field, and my prayers — along with the prayers of thousands of others — seem to be working.

And once again, I’m proud to be an American.