Over the years, it’s not uncommon for skiers and snowboarders to accumulate goggles. Often, these goggles end up in a drawer somewhere, forgotten and unused. But these goggles are now being repurposed to serve a critical need. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, medical centers across the country are short on Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). These medical centers are seeking donated goggles to help fill that need, and a grass roots effort called Goggles For Docs is serving as a conduit to these centers.
Jon Schaefer is the General Manager at Berkshire East and Catamount Ski Areas in Massachusetts. As COVID-19 began to spread, he made the difficult decision to shut down those ski areas on March 12, 2020. About two weeks later, he was forwarded an e-mail from Mike Halperin, a New York City ER Doctor who was looking for donated ski goggles to support his frontline medical workers.
Jon saw an opportunity to create a formal effort to arrange goggle donations, and quickly partnered with other members of the snowsports and travel communities to establish Goggles For Docs. With assistance from Trevor Crist and Gregg Blanchard of Inntopia, a Vermont-based travel and booking company, a website was launched. The website allows visitors to view a real-time list of nearby medical centers that are in need of goggles. Instructions on how to prepare and donate goggles are provided. Word of the effort quickly spread across social media.
How has the community response been?
“It has been incredible,” Melissa Gullotti, spokesperson for Goggles For Docs, told DCSki.
“As you know, the action sports community is a tight knit one and people just rallied. We have had goggles companies donate in the thousands, and a team of volunteers all over the country mobilized so quickly,” she said.
“We’re serving front line medical professionals who are working to save lives of those struck by the coronavirus,” Melissa said. “We’ve donated more than 35,000 goggles and we have another 5,000 needed at this moment. So now it’s time for everyone to find those extra goggles and ship them to those who so desperately need it.”
These donated goggles are finding their way to hospitals, clinics, emergency services, police, prisons, and fire departments. Dozens of new medical centers are being vetted each day by Goggles For Docs volunteers from all 50 states, Canada, and Europe. Teams have also been mobilized in Australia, Argentina, and the UK.
Athletes and musicians have also lined up to support the effort, in some cases streaming live concerts to help raise awareness and donations for the effort. For example, recently, Ed Robertson of Barenaked Ladies, Marc Roberge of O.A.R, and Sully Erna of Godsmack presented a Virtual Apres Ski music series, hosted by the US Ski Team’s Ted Ligety.
“To have athletes and musicians promote this cause has helped spread the word to people who may not be as ingrained in skiing/snowboarding and has encouraged them to help,” Melissa explained. “The support from them and from REVERB, who has helped to channel monetary donations (which we use to buy more goggles) has been invaluable.”
Despite the early success of Goggles For Docs, the need for additional goggles continues to expand.
“Donate goggles. Please. These medical professionals need our help,” said Melissa.
“New or used goggles are needed. If you go to GogglesForDocs.com you can search for hospitals in need and ship directly to them. And if you’re not able to ship directly, please search for a donation location near you,” she added.
GogglesForDocs is also encouraging skiers and snowboarders to help spread the word through their own social networks. If you don’t have goggles to donate, you can alternatively make a donation through the web site, which will be used to purchase goggles.
This grass roots reflects the desire for skiers and snowboarders to make a difference and help medical professionals in their own communities.
“We are a group of skiers and snowboarders who wanted to do something to help,” Melissa said.
M. Scott Smith is the founder and Editor of DCSki. Scott loves outdoor activities such as camping, hiking, kayaking, skiing, and mountain biking. He is an avid photographer and writer.
Very nice report Scott on a fine cause!