ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WIVB) — It was a somber afternoon and evening at One Bills Drive. Fans organized two vigils outside Highmark Stadium offering prayers and well-wishes to Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin.
Hamlin collapsed after a collision with Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins on Monday Night Football. He was rushed via ambulance to University of Cincinnati Medical Center where Hamlin remains in critical condition, as of Tuesday night.
Buffalo loves the Bills and has been hoping this is the year, but fans agree that this is bigger than football.
“We’re not guaranteed another day. We saw that last night,” one person said while praying for Hamlin.
Moments of silence and prayer linked Bills Mafia together less than 24 hours after Hamlin was injured.
“Just watching the whole thing play out you’re like I’m not watching a football game I’m watching life happening and it was really difficult to even recount,” Del Reid, co-founder of Bills Mafia, said. “I always say that the bills are the extra family member in every household in Western New York. And so when you see your family visibly upset like that you can’t help get shook. You can’t help it.”
Jill Kelly, wife of Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly and co-founder of Hunter’s Hope, organized a vigil at 3 p.m. Tuesday to honor Hamlin’s number. She described Jim as a wreck and said her family immediately began praying.
“We were broken and Jim was a wreck and it is family and Damar is family to us and we consider him a brother,” Kelly said.
Hamlin’s charity, Chasing M’s, has received millions of dollars in donations overnight, which some say shows the power of Bills Mafia.
“For the nation to come together and pour back into bills mafia and back to one of our players who needed our support in any way, shape or form. Really fills our hearts I think to see that. That generosity and that kindness really matter,” Lydia Dominick of Buffalo Gives said.
At the evening vigil outside of the Bills Store, many people noted it has been a difficult year for Buffalo and they are praying for the entire city.
“Within the last year, we’ve been through so much together, it’s just unimaginable,” one person said.
On Tuesday night, fans gathered to offer thoughts and prayers to the Bills Organization, Hamlin and his family reminding everyone they are stronger together and choosing love.
“They need to know we’re here with them. We are thinking of them. Our prayers are with him and the Hamlin family. We want to do everything we can to make sure they know that and we are here to support them,” Jessica Walker of Buffalo said.
Some even made signs with messages of support for Hamlin and his family, saying the entire city is behind them in this difficult time.
“We love you. We care for you. What a good human we’ve all learned that you are and we just are praying for you everyday,” Katya Kroll-Haeick of Hamburg added.
Support has poured in from across the country for the Bills and Damar Hamlin. In Orchard Park, signs at Highmark Stadium say ‘Pray for Damar’ and Bills Mafia is doing just that.