A crisis can bring out the best in people or, in some cases, a company. With the country essentially on lockdown due to shelter-in-place orders and nonessential business closures in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19, certain brands in the endurance sports industry have exercised both resourcefulness and generosity in an attempt to keep their own people employed while supporting the medical community.
Take, for instance, Emilio De Soto, tri apparel manufacturer. He’s able to keep his San Diego factory open by making masks, estimating he’s given away 10 to the medical community for every one mask he sells. Meanwhile Dan Kennison, who owns PremierBike, is using his background and connections in medical manufacturing to sell 20,000 surgical masks to a local hospital at his cost, with another 100,000 masks on the way. And several cycling companies have shifted their operations to make personal protective equipment (PPE) for front-line healthcare workers.
By providing food, apparel or PPE, these brands are also helping to meet the physical needs of the medical community, showing their appreciation and indebtedness to them all.
Feetures (with Fleet Feet)
In partnership with Fleet Feet retailers, the performance sock brand announced its Buy One, Gift One program, which went into effect last week. For every pair of socks purchased through Fleet Feet stores (and picked up curbside), Feetures will match the purchase with a donation to medical professionals, up to 20,000 pairs. As of last week, more than 14,000 pairs had been donated to hospitals around the country, including in New Jersey, Texas, California, Washington and Georgia. In addition, the family-owned North Carolina–based brand donated an additional 6,000 pairs to Charlotte-area hospitals.
“Much has been said about the bravery and courage of our staff, but I don’t think people fully appreciate the physical toll that this patient population and all of the additional PPE can take,” said Mark Miller, West Hills Hospital president and CEO, in a press release. “We are so excited for our staff to receive these donations. It will be perfect for them and the hard work they are doing.”
When St. Mary’s Hospital in Waterbury, Connecticut, asked for help from local businesses with access to 3D printers, active lifestyle brand Thule Group was quick to respond. Utilizing the onsite 3D printers in its American headquarters in nearby Seymour, Connecticut, Thule started printing plastic frames to make face shields for hospital staff. The shield components are being printed daily and, in cooperation with other local companies, they are hoping to assemble 20,000 face shields in a 20-day period.
Clif Bar has been able to keep its two bakeries (in Indianapolis, Indiana, and Twin Falls, Idaho) open and operating, and the Northern California–based company has pledged to donate 3 million bars to help sustain healthcare workers fighting the pandemic. Clif Bar has already donated an additional 3.6 million Clif products to food banks, nonprofit partners, hospitals, and first responders in North America and Europe. So far, donations have been received by places such as the University of Washington Department of Medicine, Long Island Jewish Medical Center ICU, New York Police Department, Kaiser Permanente Hospitals, Central Texas Food Bank, and Ottawa Paramedic.
Bell + Giro
Last week, Bell and Giro brands announced their donation of more than 3,000 pairs of protective goggles to America’s frontline healthcare workers. The goggles, which can be sanitized and reused, will be delivered to 41 different healthcare facilities spread across 18 states in coordination with the newly formed Goggles for Docs. Through the organization, which was created by ski and snowboard industry members, more than 13,000 goggles have been donated to date.
To help make life easier for those on the front lines, Specialized launched its Essential Rides for Essential Workers promotion, which will donate a bike to essential workers who are in need of safe, reliable, convenient transportation. Workers can either fill out their own application or be referred by someone in their community by April 22, and final bike donations will be made on a first-come-first-served basis to qualified applicants. Specialized has also partnered with Transportation Alternatives in New York City to provide bikes that will be matched with essential workers in need of transportation.
“Keeping essential workers moving is critical for our communities, and normal commutes and transportation routines for many have been upended during the crisis,” says Specialized brand lead Ian Kenny. “Bikes provide healthy, reliable, and convenient transportation while practicing safe social distancing, and we wanted to do our small part in using the power of the bicycle to help make life a little easier for those on the front lines.”
Tennessee-based sock brand Swiftwick has launched a Buy One, Get One initiative. For every pair of Aspire Twelve compression socks purchased, Swiftwick is donating a pair to those working on the front lines at the nearby Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Swiftwick is also giving a pair for any $5 donation collected at checkout. To date, 350 pairs have been donated.