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Former Team Canada captain Hayley Wickenheiser and Canadian actor Ryan Reynolds are stepping up to help provide Canadian frontline health care workers with personal protective equipment as they continue to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
Wickenheiser, who is in her final year of medical school, said she'd been receiving texts from her friends in the field expressing their concerns about the shortage of equipment. When the Hall of Fame forward turned to social media to ask for help, Reynolds, a close friend, offered to help spread the call.
"It's been amazing," Wickenheiser told TSN's Gino Reda on Tuesday. "Some people have a lot to give and some people don't. Whether it's a dollar from a young student in India, to 200,000 masks coming up from Denver, people from all around the world have really (reached out). We've had 700 emails in 24 hours from folks that have legitimate things that they want to donate."
The pair teamed up with Conquer COVID-19, a grassroots organization that's helping Canadian health care workers access PPE and other supplies to treat patients. Physicians and frontline workers can log onto the website to list what they need and the organization will try to deliver those items.
To facilitate this initiative, Wickenheiser coordinated a weekly Saturday drive at XYZ Storage in Toronto where donations such as N-95 masks, gloves, baby wipes, and sanitizers can be dropped off.
The four-time Olympic gold medalist says the response has been incredible so far and they expect to gather even more equipment over the weekend.
"It's in the hundreds of thousands of items that we've physically brought in and it's going to be into the millions by the time our Saturday drive happens," Wickenheiser said.
Several professional sports teams, organizations, and athletes have made efforts to assist frontline medical workers over the past few weeks, including the NBA's Dallas Mavericks, Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey, Montreal Canadiens defenseman Jeff Petry, and NASCAR.