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Reading Spotlight Blog - How Damar Hamlin Renewed My Hope

Shocked & Awed

     While channel surfing on Monday, 1/2/23, I was shocked, as were most American football fans, when the announcers on the Monday night NFL game between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Buffalo Bills described the sudden cardiac arrest of a Bills’ player, Damar Hamilton. The player was not breathing, so CPR was administered immediately on the field. The players, announcers, and fans were very upset and extremely quiet. Many were crying.  This, too, was shocking.

     During the long wait for movement to an ambulance, the announcers mentioned that Damar was not only a great player, but also a role model who was very interested in helping the community where he grew up. They said that he had a Go Fund Me page, hoping to raise $2,500 for his Chasing M’s Foundation to provide toys and clothes for children in his local community. I found the page on my iPad, but then I received a VERY BIG SHOCK: The address for Kelly and Nina’s Daycare Center was very familiar, so very familiar because, that is THE actual school building in which I toiled as a reading specialist for 15 of my 31 teaching years!

        Just 2 months ago, I wrote a blog post in which I mentioned that a depressing aspect of my teaching job was how I gave up trying to fulfill the first of Maslov’s Basic Needs: physiological. You can read that post here:

The Best Gift for Struggling Learners

     I was especially shocked at the coincidence upon learning that Damar’s foundation was trying to raise money for a preschool in the very same school building in the very same community where I had worked so hard to improve my students’ reading ability for so many years. The school’s cornerstone reads 1901, as I recall. The poverty rate is above 90% now.

     As I write this post, I am AWED, both by Damar’s altruism, as well as the overwhelming contributions of American sports fans. The fund has passed $9 million!!! Damar continues to improve daily, and we all hope that he will be able to resume his life, career, and dreams, just as before. This remarkable person sent love to all who supported him with a hands-formed heart from his hospital bed. He has now been released and continues to recover from his home.

     I never taught Damar Hamlin, but I know something about educational success for children of poverty in this locale.  I have often imagined community improvements I could make if I won the lottery. If I could tell him how to spend that money in the neighborhood, I would encourage him to develop a plan to fulfill basic, physical needs first.

  1. Clothes, coats, and shoes for all children in need
  1. Books and educational toys for children monthly from ages 1-8, plus instruction for new parents on how to read a story with their children

You can see Reading Spotlight’s FREE TIP here:

How To Read a Story with Your Child

He had those ideas right!


With some renewed hope, I would advise him to support any or all of these projects:

  1. A walkable community center (maybe in that same school building?) that includes:
  • A local, sustainable, health clinic for all children, including young, pregnant women
  • Local, strong, and persevering social workers for school-age children, with an emphasis on neglect and truancy because many underfunded governmental agencies are so overwhelmed with possible cases of abuse that they cannot provide meaningful attention to these types of cases.
  • Instruction for new parents on how to raise healthy, happy children while fulfilling their own needs and desires (An important goal for all of us!)
  • CPR Instruction for all 11th and 12th graders at the high school
  • After-school tutoring
  • Evening basketball, arts, drama, and entrepreneurship classes
  • Teen sex education
  • Counseling services for all ages—with several helpful and dedicated counselors to avoid long wait lists
  • A job office with up-to-date career counselors who can make connections to technical schools, union internships, and community colleges
  • A role model program for both girls and boys, and not just sports stars. There are hundreds of jobs that can provide a fulfilling and rewarding livelihood. Students should be introduced to many of them. Children of poverty often have no idea what careers can be open to them.
  • You can read about my own small, in-class role model program here:

An Ideal Gift


Teachers might also consider this FREE section:   Careers in the Media

which is one of six components of Reading Spotlight’s


 Grammar Stories: Careers


Good luck, Damar! Thank you for renewing my dream of help for these children of poverty. I hope your foundation becomes a great design for improving impoverished communities everywhere.


Two old photos from my time in that school:

                              A Viking Through and Through


© Reading Spotlight 2023

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