Totum Sport support the frontline
The exciting hydration solution supplier - Technical Partner with the League Managers Association (LMA) and Associate Partner of Newcastle United – has taken the extraordinary step to pause its business activities to help frontline forces fighting the pandemic. The company has given its entire sporting stock to medical, emergency and care workers as a substitute to their usual athlete consumers.
By ‘Swapping the Jersey for the Scrubs’ Totum Sport has been promoting the fact that now doctors, nurses, ambulance crews, police, fire brigade and all emergency Covid-19 staff need their bodies operating at peak performance more than ever before.
John Kelleher, founder and CEO of Cellnutrition Sport – Totum Sport’s global distributor - was horrified to read stories of doctors and nurses suffering major dehydration issues due to the intense nature of their new working realities.
“Here you have a bunch of brilliant people working for the NHS and HSE (in Ireland) who are seriously under pressure in normal times. Add in an unprecedented physical workload, the mental stress of knowing that you and your colleagues could contract this dangerous virus, and all while wearing masks, gloves and other PPE which restricts the body ability to function correctly.”
The Soccerex Advisory Board Member continued “For me it was a no-brainer – we had a product that could actually support these incredible professionals to at least go into their shifts completely hydrated with increased levels of electrolytes and minerals.”
The campaign began on March 27 with a simple but effective message across all Social Media platforms from Head Nutritionist Marie Farag to all key health workers. Within minutes of launching the campaign, the messages started arriving from professionals across the health sector experiencing serious additional work pressures.
One of the most incredible early contacts came from a former NHS nurse working at Beaufort Memorial Hospital in South Carolina, the scene there described as a “never ending hurricane”. Staff at the hospital described a typical working day of highly oppressive conditions. Temporary tented wards have been erected in the grounds where spring heat, face masks, gloves and short breaks, all conspire to cause exhaustion, so they and others in North America were supplied immediately from CellNutrition’s New York base.
In Europe a similar picture was emerging of incredibly over-worked staff all battling manfully in unprecedented conditions to overcome a once-in-a-century pandemic.
Very quickly eminent hospitals including the Heart and Chest Hospital in Liverpool, St Bartholomew's and Kings College in London, The Mater and Beaumont Hospital in Dublin, had all made contact followed by ambulance services and care homes to provide product for their staff, with one of the UK’s biggest first responder services - the NEAS in the Northeast, seeking assistance for its 2,500 emergency crew staff.
This was a change of focus for Totum Sport, used to providing hydration, performance and recovery solutions for elite athletes including Rafael Nadal, as well as a realisation that sports stars may have been the most prominent heroes of until recently, but we were now being presented with a very new breed of hero.
Kelleher puts it most succinctly: “Shankly was actually wrong. Football isn’t more important than life or death. Nothing is. We now have heroes for the times we live in, elite professionals, who certainly aren’t out there for our entertainment or for recreational purposes, they’re there saving our lives.”
“And what’s even more remarkable about these people, is that they are putting themselves in danger, and all to look after us, our mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, sons and daughters. There’s something incredibly courageous and admirable about these people, and they deserve all the support they can get. It’s a term that can often be overused nowadays, but they truly are heroes.”
Less than one month into the campaign Cellnutrition Sport had passed the milestone of providing more than half a million blue sachets to workers. The success and evidence of the need drove Kelleher to immediately push to get another five hundred thousand sachets out there, expanding the scope to include Police, Fire Service and all Care Workers.
If the initial offer was well received the follow-up to those at the ‘front of the frontline’ was off the charts.
In a fresh effort to encourage Police, Gardai and Fire Brigade the company launched its ‘We’re Fronting Up’ campaign which was immediately overwhelmed with requests. The company is now well underway in its second phase of operations to supply product to this wider constituency, with requests for information and product being dealt with as soon as they arrive.
Among the highlights is a request from the National Ambulance Service in Ireland to provide product to all emergency crews across the country. The company has also received similar requests from across the UK and Ireland, including ambulance services in Scotland, Police associations in the UK, and Gardai in Ireland.
In the US the New York Police Department’s Head of Wellness has also been in discussion about receiving product for its vast membership, in what is now one of the world’s Covid-19 epicentres. And in the last week alone pallets of Totum Sport have reached hospitals in Madrid, another hotspot desperately under pressure.
So what is the ultimate aim of the company now, and has it reset John Kelleher’s priorities for his business?
“I’ve been around long enough to know that business and economics are worthless without your health. Our business has been severely impacted by Covid-19, but so have so many others. Our only single aim is to try to help, and give something small to support those who are giving so much. When opportunities in life come around to do that, you have to grab them.”
“It’s a bold initiative to get so much product to those at the coalface of this crisis, but it’s still nothing like having to scrub up every morning and walk into a Covid-19 ward and care for the dying and the suffering for 12 hours, day after day, for weeks on end, and perhaps for months to come, or getting into an ambulance and calling to the homes the seriously ill, or for the police to go into every shift knowing the risks that they face day-in and day out.”
Of course there is no financial benefit to these actions, in fact quite the opposite, but on the subject of praise Cellnutrition Sport’s CEO is clear, “The only thanks that should be given here is from our company to those on the frontline, and from us to those who have come to us seeking our support. I would like to thank our amazing staff who have worked around-the-clock to deliver product and to satisfy extraordinary demands. They have been exceptional and I am very proud of their work.”
A most welcome expression of gratitude was, however, delivered to the company’s Global Head of Communications Ian Mallon last week, when the Irish Government wrote to him to mark the effect of Cell Sport on behalf of key workers.
Minister-of-State for Sport, Brendan Griffin noted that as a sports supplement brand, he had been ‘delighted to learn’ of Totum Sport’s response.
“Your response in assisting the HSE in this time of crisis by donating your product to medical professionals and in fact all frontline workers, to assist them in performing their challenging duties, is highly commendable. This donation of stock is not only well received by our frontline workers, but is testament to how your company has acted for the public good in this time of need.”
“On behalf of my Department and myself I would like to thank John, yourself and your team for this very important contribution in these difficult times. These actions are taken willingly and without any gain for Totum Sport and I commend you for these actions. Both myself and the Irish public owe you a sincere debt of gratitude.”
These are truly unsporting times, but as shown above, the products and expertise which have assisted football in conquering ever greater heights can often be retargeted to help the society the game lives in.
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