Hayley Wickenheiser

Hayley Wickenheiser and Ryan Reynolds team up to get PPE to frontline healthcare workers in Toronto

Former Canadian hockey star and Olympic gold medalist Hayley Wickenheiser is doing her share to help out with the COVID-19 outbreak by seeking donations of personal protective equipment (PPE).

Wickenheiser, who is currently in medical school training to become a doctor, put out a call on Twitter this past weekend looking for donations of PPE, such as masks and gloves for frontline health care workers.

She says she will personally pick up items from people in Toronto with proper distancing and will offer a small return like signed jerseys or smiles.

Shortly after Wickenheiser's tweets, Canadian actor Ryan Reynolds tweeted out his support for the cause and decided to offer his own gifts in exchange for PPE gear.

On Monday, the pair of stars connected with the organization, Conquer COVID-19, so that they could work together to gather and distribute more medical supplies.

Conquer COVID-19 is a grassroots organization comprised of physicians, business leaders, entrepreneurs and volunteers aiming to ensure that frontline workers have access to essential supplies in treating patients and minimizing the spread of the virus.

Currently, they are focusing on allocating supplies to hospitals, nursing homes and especially doctor’s offices, who don’t have the same access to the wholesale of supplies.

“Somebody on our team saw [Hayley’s] tweet and responded to her and from that everything snowballed,” said Jodi Echakowitz, a representative from Conquer COVID-19.

“Ryan and Hayley are good friends, so through the awareness between both of them, it has really helped to just generate a huge number of inbound queries, both from those who are looking for PPE, as well as those who want to donate.”

Dr. Kashif Pirzada, a medical advisor with Conquer COVID-19, says they are trying to prevent medical centres from closing down due to a lack of equipment.

“Many hospitals are maybe one to two weeks away from running out,” Pirzada said. “At some places, they’re assigning workers one mask for the whole day. Hospitals can go through hundreds of N95 masks and tens of thousands of surgical masks in one day, so our goal is to continuously keep trying to find new supply.”

Darren Greenspoon, a camp director at Camp Green Acres in Markham, Ont., was one of the first to respond to Wickenheiser’s request on Twitter.

After finding out over the weekend that his camp had 660 extra N95 masks that they use for copper enameling, he wanted to figure out how he could donate them.

“On Sunday, I saw this tweet from Hayley Wickenheiser and I’m not much of a social media person, but I looked at my wife and said, ‘I'll respond to this tweet, I know she’ll get it to the right people.’ ” Greenspoon said.

Greenspoon met up with Wickenheiser in Burlington on Monday evening to deliver the supplies. Although he originally just wanted a photo with Wickenheiser, he, along with other donors, even got a chance to share a FaceTime video call with Reynolds.

“She FaceTimed [Reynolds] there and he introduced himself to all the people who made donations and he basically thanked them and said how incredible the Canadian spirit is.”

The efforts to field medical supplies are already in full swing. With both Wickenheiser and Reynolds' help, Conquer COVID-19 will be hosting a PPE drive every Saturday in Toronto from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at XYZ Storage at 459 Eastern Avenue.

Lead photo by

Hayley Wickenheiser

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