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Buffalo Bills S Damar Hamlin meets with President Joe Biden, advocates on Capitol Hill for AEDs

The triumph of the human spirit transcends politics

Buffalo Bills Damar Hamlin Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

When Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin lay motionless on the turf of Paycor Field during the Buffalo Bills’ Week 17 game against the Cincinnati Bengals, a stunned audience watched in real time as first responders set in motion the journey to save a young man’s life. At the time, a very anxious and upset audience didn’t understand what had happened and couldn’t tell why both teams were so visibly distraught.

What understandable sense could be made from Hamlin having made what seemed like a typical tackle on a routine play backing away and collapsing, then motionless for what seemed an eternity? All anyone knew was that everything moving forward was unprecedented in the NFL, for Damar Hamlin, for two franchises, for a major television network, and for the emotions of countless people, NFL fans and beyond. The world had just watched Damar Hamlin suffer a major traumatic cardiac arrest on live television. The efforts by Bills team trainer Denny Kellington to provide CPR and the use of an automated external defibrillator (AED) gave Hamlin the chance he needed to survive.

As we now well know, Hamlin made a remarkable recovery, especially so in the early days of his injury. While still yet to return to the practice or playing fields, and with plenty of evaluations and tests to go before those conversations can fruitfully take place, Hamlin stands tall knowing that he received a second chance at life. And he’s making the most of every second. While his journey and recovery became a rallying try for his teammates and fans during the team’s 2022 season, Hamlin’s reach is gaining a far bigger audience outside of professional sports.

Damar Hamlin was in our nation’s capitol on Thursday to speak about the lack of requirements that would provide automated external defibrillator (AEDs) to schools across the country.

Per a story by CNN, “Hamlin joined Reps. Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick, D-Fla., and Bill Posey, R-Fla., to highlight the Access to AEDs Act, a bipartisan bill introduced in the US House this week. It would establish a grant program to provide schools with the funds to purchase and maintain AEDs, strengthen CPR training and develop cardiac emergency response plans, Cherfilus-McCormick said.”

In Washington, D.C., Damar Hamlin used voice to reinforce the startling need for AEDs:

“Sudden cardiac arrest happens to more than 7,000 kids under the age of 18 every year in our country — 7,000 kids every year. The majority of the kids impacted are student-athletes, and research shows that one in every 300 youth has an undetected heart condition that puts them at risk. For schools that have AEDs, the survival rate for the children from sudden cardiac arrest is seven times higher,” Hamlin stated at the event on Capitol Hill. “The Access to AEDs Act will help ensure that schools are just as prepared and trained to respond in the time of crisis as those on the sidelines of an NFL game,” continued Hamlin.

Present Joe Biden also welcomed Damar Hamlin and his family to The White House on Thursday. The President’s tweet drove home the impact that Hamlin’s inspirational story has made on the nation, especially the positives that continue to resonate toward benefiting those who find themselves in similar situations. “(H)e turned recovery into action — and our country is better for it.,” said President Biden in his tweet.

Damar Hamlin continues to make a profound impact in the world, with the NFL announcing this past Monday via Twitter the launch of the Smart Heart Sports Coalition — which, in partnership with additional organizations — is “a nationwide advocacy campaign to prevent fatal outcomes from Sudden Cardiac Arrest among high school athletes.”

Hamlin continues to progress towards his goal of hopefully returning to play football in the NFL, but he has much work to do before that dream can realize its own second chance. Through it all, Hamlin has the support of the organization — which is also dealing with team President Kim Pegula’s serious health concerns, her having suffered from cardiac arrest last summer. Jessica Pegula, in a piece with The Players’ Tribune, first told her mother’s story to the world — eight months after the family experienced the trauma. Like Damar Hamlin, Kim Pegula and her family are still adapting to what has become a new normal in their world. Unlike Damar Hamlin, Kim Pegula’s progress to this point has not painted the same level of recovery that Hamlin has found.

A simple request: While politics is one of life’s biggest hot-button topics, we ask you to refrain from partisan debating here, especially when directed at your fellow Rumblers. Instead, let’s try rallying around the idea of people with influence coming together for the benefit of all at risk of sudden cardiac arrest.