Conquer COVID-19 inspires hope and equips healthcare professionals

April 30, 2020

It started with a seed of hope, and it’s blossomed into an outpouring of compassion and support.

When the coronavirus reached Canada, Enbridge Gas senior legal counsel Guri Pannu and five close friends created Conquer COVID-19—a grassroots, volunteer-driven organization focused on providing personal protective equipment (PPE) to the health-care community on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In just four short weeks, Conquer COVID-19 became a nationwide movement with over 100 volunteers and dozens of corporate sponsors. Through donations, sponsorships, and the sale of custom designed “boring” T-shirts, the organization has raised almost $2 million and sold approximately 16,000 shirts. All proceeds of the T-shirts go towards the purchase of PPE.

Through PPE drives, as well as donations by companies such as Toys R Us, Vtech, Canadian Tire, Conros, Spin Master, Klick Health, Best Buy, and others, Conquer COVID-19 has collected hundreds of thousands of items—including surgical masks, respirators, and face shields, procedural gloves, gowns, baby monitors and tablets, as well as other items for shelters, including diapers, formula, and feminine hygiene products.

In late April, as an example, the team delivered 10,000 masks to Nova Scotia with the help of Bombardier.

“We’ve distributed almost 400,000 of these items to 180 sites in 54 cities across five provinces,” says Pannu. “In addition to raising funds for PPE. Conquer COVID-19 is dedicated to another purpose—‘Flipping the narrative’ to changing the mindset of Canadians to help inspire hope that we can come together as strangers in a community to conquer this virus.”

The group will be wrapping up its fundraising campaign in May, after which additional PPE will be purchased and distributed to regions that are most in need.

The campaign has drawn praise and support from the likes of four-time Olympic hockey champion Hayley Wickenheiser and actor Ryan Reynolds, whose involvement has brought Conquer COVID-19 national and international attention, and helped to sell many of those 16,000 T-shirts.

Said Reynolds on social media: “The conquercovid19 team has come through for so many . . . they’ve saved lives. They’ve changed lives. They’re a collective national treasure.”

The #BoringTshirtChallenge represents the organization’s final fundraising push. Participants are asked to:

  • post a video or photo to their social media channels
  • encourage their networks to purchase T-shirts through
  • tag Reynolds (@VancityReynolds on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram) and Wickenheiser (@wick_22 on Twitter, @22wick on Facebook, @hchickwick on Instagram)
  • Use hashtags #BoringTshirtChallenge and #ConquerCOVID19

(TOP PHOTO: Hailey Wickenheiser and a couple of helpful volunteers during a PPE drive in April organized by Conquer COVID-19.)