Wow! What a wild and terrific 72 hours!
What started as a small idea to help a local person get to Sri Lanka to aid in the relief efforts has turned into a massive outpouring of support and assistance. Bjorn and the folks at Big Sky Brewery had to literally shut down operations to handle the influx of donations, telephone calls and volunteers. In the past 72 hours the idea of sending one person has taken off; Big Sky is committed to sending 8 and possibly more! For my part, all I did was send out a couple of email and make a few telephone calls...the rest all goes to those who responded.
The amount of antibiotics, over the counter medicines, bandages and other medical supplies donated is astounding. From individuals to doctor’s offices & surgery centers, we collected IV tubing, sutures, syringes, gauze, antibiotics, nipples, gloves, sterile wipes and more. On Thursday, the local Dollar rental donated a full-sized cargo van to transport the supplies to Spokane, Washington where a group of paramedics sorted everything by priority...the thought being they'd take it all to the airport and try to get as much on as they could, with the most important items going first. Amazingly, the airline allowed 100% of the supplies to be loaded onto the plane and Darrin Coldiron, the first of 8 volunteers, headed to Sri Lanka. Once there, The American Red Cross’s operations in country and a customs official will meet Darrin and expedite him through. Another Missoula connection (through rugby) lined up 4 host families and a dedicated driver to transport Darrin and the supplies to the hard hit areas. A satellite telephone and laptop were also donated so Darrin and future volunteers can coordinate with other relief efforts and keep us informed as to what is going on and how we might help more. Here's the most astounding news of all, even though we only asked for supplies, through local efforts (especially the 24 hour radio fundraiser) over $26,000.00 was donated in 24 hours and the Paul Allen foundation has now gotten involved.
It is an incredible testament to the goodness and generosity of this community.
Next Wednesday Bjorn will be taking a second load of supplies to Spokane: Children’s medicines, water purification and antibiotics are still needed. Please spread the word and, as before, any interested party can contact me via email or telephone (329-5651 direct dial) or Bjorn at Big Sky (549-2777 x 101). Also, there is room for two more volunteers willing to go in-country. Volunteers need a strong medical background (paramedic or higher is recommended) and if they also have construction experience it would be great. All expenses will be paid. There is a screening process already set-up.
On a personal note deepest gratitude goes out to my friends in the Ultimate and medical communities who rallied to my request for help; there are so many of you who give and give so I really appreciate the extra efforts.
Oh, and Darrin now has a blog of his own you can follow Darrin's Blog