BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — The Ice at Canalside re-opened for the first time since the Christmas Blizzard. On Friday, skaters rallied together for a good cause.

The ‘Buffalo Strong’ skate raised money for the American Heart Association to support CPR training. This was partially in response to the lives lost during both snow storms last year and Damar Hamlin’s cardiac arrest on Monday night.

“Everybody across the country has come together to support Buffalo and everything that we’ve been through. It’s nothing like I’ve ever seen before,” Maureen Hanagan, community affairs manager for Highmark Western New York, said.

Many skaters say it was great to see the community together again after what has been a difficult year.

“I think its awesome that they are doing this for Damar and I think its super great thing that the city is doing,” Kayla Metzger of Hamburg said.

David Szprygada of Tonawanda is a first responder who was trapped trying to rescue others during the blizzard. He says he was excited to take his daughter skating on Friday.

“It’s been a tough year for all of us. The Bills are a nice bright spot to pull you out when you’ve gone through so much. It’s a nice little escape. For them to suffer, I hope that this is an escape for them and they can see that we have their backs like they’ve had ours,” Szprygada added.

On site CPR training was also provided. Doctors caring for Hamlin say quick bystander CPR given by the Bills training staff saved Hamlin’s life.

The Ice had been closed since December 22 due to the blizzard across Western New York.

$1 of every admission ticket sold will be donated to the association along with funds raised from raffles for a signed Dion Dawkins helmet and a signed Stefon Diggs football. The event Friday will run from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., and then Canalside will resume normal hours of operation.

In addition, the Ice Fest to Canalside is set to return on January 13-15.

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Tara Lynch is a Buffalo native who joined the News 4 team as a reporter in 2022. She previously worked at WETM in Elmira, N.Y., a sister station of News 4. You can follow Tara on Facebook and Twitter and find more of her work here.