~ by Daniel Demaras ~
Last week, the hospital down the street from my house urgently requested gloves and masks from the public. The hospital is a coronavirus screening centre, and the nurses and doctors don’t even have enough protective gear to take care of patients. I couldn’t believe this was happening in my Toronto! So, I grabbed the boxes of nitrile gloves we bought for wrenching on the race kart this summer, and prepared a donation box. But it wasn’t enough.
Although I sent out a bunch of racing sponsorship proposals last month, I only got positive answers from two companies before the virus shut down businesses and racing. But I decided to spend my sponsor money on N95 masks and personal protective equipment to donate to Michael Garron Hospital. The problems facing Toronto hospitals are way more important than my racing season.
Just locating medical supplies was nearly impossible. Toronto was shocked last week when a high-end grocery store was caught price gouging on Lysol wipes. The store was taking advantage of a crisis situation by buying up cases of essential goods, jacking up the price, then selling it to a panicked public. The same thing happened in my neighbourhood where a local corner store was selling 1L bottles of hand sanitizer for $50. I didn’t call the authorities like the Ontario premier told us to. I went into the store with my sponsor cash and told him I wanted to buy him out, so I could donate it. He could make whatever money he wanted, and I would blow all the cash that was supposed to pay for tires and race fees. But it didn’t matter, as long as the hospital got what they needed.
For 10 minutes they store owner tried to justify what he was doing. That his customers were demanding the products, that his regular suppliers were out of stock and that he bought the products heavily marked up by a middle-man. I didn’t judge him. He’s just a small business trying to keep the lights on. But I had a target I needed to achieve mo matter the cost. He took my money, then filled up my donation box with hundreds of dollars more supplies. His generosity outweighed mine.
The sponsor money I spent was supposed to support my racing career this summer. The medical supplies the corner store was price gouging on was supposed to support his family during this economic crisis. Just remember that these are difficult times, and people do things that are out of character when stressed. There’s no good guy or bad guy.
We are all in this together.