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Denver dialysis patient challenges others to donate spare masks, sanitizer gel during PPE drive

Collection in Lot J at Empower Field 12 - 4 Sunday
Posted at 11:27 PM, Mar 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-22 02:03:34-04

DENVER -- As the coronavirus sweeps across Colorado, many people are stepping forward to help thwart the pandemic's advance.

Several have taken it upon themselves to remedy the shortage of medical masks for those on the front lines at Colorado hospitals.

On Sunday, a Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) drive will be held in Lot J at Empower Field at Mile HIgh.

That drive is being organized by House Majority Leader Alec Garnett, House Minority Leader Patrick Neville, Project C.U.R.E., Colorado Concerns and the Denver Broncos.

A Denver dialysis patient, who uses a cane to get around, reached out to Denver7 after hearing about a similar effort called the "100 Million Mask Challenge."

Walter Marshall has 30 to 40 spare masks and a few spare bottles of hand sanitizer, and since he's having difficulty getting around on his own, he asked a news crew to pick them up and deliver them to the drop-off location.

Marshall uses level 2 masks to keep from getting germs on his home dialysis equipment.

"I've got another shipment coming in," he said, "so I'm good. None of this is going to hurt me."

Marshall, an avid news watcher, said he's stunned by the rapidly rising increase in coronavirus cases worldwide.

"I said to myself, people are dying every day, until they find a vaccine, or cure or something," he said.

After seeing a rise in the number of young people getting sick, the 65-year old Denver resident decided to do more than donate spare masks.

He dictated a letter to his niece offering to volunteer as a candidate for coronavirus research.

He asked her to send the letter to UC-Health in Aurora, where he's been treated for kidney issues, John Sealy Hospital in
Galveston, Texas, where he was born, and to Johns Hopkins Medical Center in Baltimore.

Battling coronavirus

He likened the battle against the coronavirus to war.

"In war, we have casualties. In war, people lose lives, he said. "I want to be a soldier."

"My uncle is fearless and determined," said Phyllise Forbes, the niece who wrote the letter. "I'm honored to have someone in my family that's willing to go above and beyond for other human beings."

Marshall said he's not trying to be a hero, he just wants to help, as doctors helped him with his kidney issues and an earlier stroke.

He took time during the interview to direct a message to college kids who spent Spring Break congregating in large groups on beaches, or at ski areas.

"Who sent you to that college," he asked, "a grandmother, a grandfather, a great aunt or uncle?"

He said there's a chance some of the student may have become infected with the virus.

"You're young, you're strong, you don't feel anything," he said, "but you may go home to dinner, and now you're going to pass it to the person who gave your your tuition, that helped you with your books, and now they've got it."

He said he hopes none of those college kids have to go to a funeral.

Challenging others

Marshall is challenging other dialysis patients, and other Denver residents who use level 2 or level 3 masks, to check their storage closets and drawers to see if they have some they can spare.

"Find them and donate them," he said.

PPE Drop-off Location

If you have personal protective equipment (in an unopened box or bottle) that you'd like to donate, you can drop them off in Lot J at Empower Field at Mile High, between 12 and 4 p.m Sunday.

Be aware that social distancing will be practiced in the collection area.