January 2, 2023: the night Damar Hamlin collapsed.

At the time, the Buffalo Bills' safety had just made a routine tackle in his team's game against the Cincinnati Bengals, yet moments after the whistle blew, Hamlin was on the ground, and not conscious.

In the days that followed, we'd come to learn that Hamlin had gone into sudden cardiac arrest, which can be triggered by a sudden blunt force to the chest. Once the training staff got to Hamlin, they had only a few moments to react. Between the use of an AED machine, and consistent CPR compressions, Denny Kellington and the staff were able to save Damar Hamlin's life. It was a miracle, playing out before our very eyes.

Seventeen years before that night, Mike Papale was the subject of that same type of miracle.

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August 24, 2006: the day Mike Papale collapsed.

Papale, then 17 years old, was a budding basketball star, and as budding athletes often do, he was spending every free moment he had engrained in the sport he loved.

He was good, too.

As Papale told Charlie Voelker and me on The Drive with Charlie and Dan on Tuesday, he had just finished a morning workout, and was set to help his father run a basketball clinic for younger players in their town.

That's the last part of the day that Papale remembers.

Damar Hamlin had Denny Kellington, and the many members of the Buffalo Bills' training staff, there to save him. Mike Papale, meanwhile, had an unknown savior in the building next-door. The person was an EMT, and though he was off-duty, still had his pager on.

A miracle in its own right.

The pager went off, the person came running, and they were able to administer CPR and save Mike's life. There was no AED, or automated external defibrillator, on-site; Papale had to wait for the ambulance to arrive for that to happen.

Let me pause on that thought for a moment: there was no AED anywhere on the premises. That's a major problem, one that countless schools, gyms and other athletic facilities still face nearly 20 years after Papale's medical event happened.

For that problem, I offer you Mike's solution: his foundation, In A Heartbeat.

In A Heartbeat's mission statement is simple, yet crucial: to prevent death from hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) and sudden cardiac arrest by raising awareness, enabling research, and donating automated external defibrillators (AEDs) to places that need them.

Though their work is far from done, the impact that In A Heartbeat has made is substantial:

  • 246 AEDs donated
  • $35,000 donated to research
  • 3,268 people trained in CPR
  • 4,237 hearts screened or checked

There is no such thing as too much support for incredible causes like this one. If you want to donate, you can click here to check out In A Heartbeat's donate page. You can also connect with them on Facebook, and follow them on Instagram.

Here is our full interview with Mike on The Drive with Charlie and Dan:

NFL Players, Coaches Rally Around Buffalo's Damar Hamlin in Emotional Weekend

In the first NFL game action since Damar Hamlin went into cardiac arrest, players and coaches leaguewide donned t-shirts to show support for the Buffalo player.

Gallery Credit: Dan Bahl

Biden Praises Buffalo's Hamlin for 'Courage' in White House Meet

Buffalo Bills' CB Damar Hamlin visited Washington D.C. this week, and spent time with President Joe Biden at The White House, who lauded him for his courage.

Gallery Credit: Dan Bahl

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