ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WIVB) — Bills fans have sent well-wishes, prayers, cards, flowers and food to Cincinnati, hoping their small gesture will help Damar Hamlin and his family. Today, many said they cried tears of joy when they learned of Hamlin’s progress.

Outside of the Bills team store in Orchard Park Thursday afternoon, fans said they are relieved, grateful and happy to hear that Hamlin is awake and his condition is improving.

“It’s been tough for everybody in Buffalo and just to see that news and to see he’s at least making some positive steps toward recovery, it’s great,” Chris Snyder of Hamburg said.

Their reaction came just hours after Dr. William Knight IV and Dr. Timothy Pritts, who are treating Hamlin at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, updated the media on the Bills safety’s condition. They said he woke up last night and was communicating by writing down questions. His first query was if the Bills won the game Monday night.

“To hear that that’s his first thing was that he’s worried did we win the game, it shows where his heart is. Like the doctors told him, you did win. You won the game of life,” Shakonwaretsi Silversmith of Montreal, Quebec added.

Hamlin has made significant progress after going into cardiac arrest Monday night on the field against the Bengals. He remains in critical care and in the intensive care unit as of Thursday night.

The hit was shocking and emotional for many Bills fans watching the events unfold from their living rooms.

“My heart broke and I was just terrified for his family. I still am getting teary about it,” Betty Darling of East Concord said.

The Bills are integral members of the Western New York community and some fans even view the team as family.

“They are our community and they treat us like we are apart of their community, but we’ve had so many difficult things happen this year,” Therese Forton-Barnes of Buffalo added. “They’ve been there for us. We’ve been there for them, but we needed to be with them even more.”

Bills fans plan to fill Highmark Stadium on Sunday for the final game of the regular season, but they say it will be different than any other game.

“We just kinda hope we take this energy and I can’t imagine what the energy in the stadium is going to be on Sunday,” Andrea Everett continued.

The team has been described as resilient and fans hope it takes them all the way to a Super Bowl championship.

“To win something like that, it would be amazing. It would be absolutely amazing. Quite honestly, if you were to write a better story, there would be no other way to write it,” Jay Laventure of Buffalo concluded.

Bills fans say they will be behind the team 100 percent on Sunday afternoon. In Thursday’s press conference, Bills head coach Sean McDermott said he thinks the energy in the stadium will be like nothing he’s ever experienced before. It seems that pray for Damar has now been replaced with play for Damar.

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.