Every time we practice social distancing, wear our face masks, and keep our hands sanitized, we are doing our part to help those working on the frontlines during the coronavirus pandemic.
Most importantly, we are helping those in the medical profession from being overwhelmed, as they spend countless hours caring for those who are sick.
Eager to play her part, one New Yorker is taking her actions a step further.
“In February, I had the pleasure of watching Naomi Campbell accept an award for her activism for the LGBTQ+ community,” Ajón told BET Digital exclusively. “I was inspired by her ability to use her platform as a fashion industry leader to support communities beyond her own, despite the challenges she has overcome.”
Ajón, a Long Island native, and soon-to-be graduate of SUNY Old Westbury, saw a need that needed to be fulfilled in order to help nurses who are on their feet for long hours every day.
It all started with the birthday celebration of her cousin, Danielle, who works on the frontline as a nurse. When her cousin requested a pair of Nike sneakers as a gift, Ajón had a lightbulb moment. “This was the first time I considered the importance of comfortable sneakers as a part of nurses’ uniforms,” she told us. “I sent my cousin a gift card as a ‘Thank you for your hard work!’ and then I realized I could thank a few more nurses.”
The communications and media student went on to order four pairs of sneakers before posting on her social media platforms that she would be sending them to nurses who are on the frontlines of COVID-19. “It didn’t take long for me to distribute these four pairs to well-deserving nurses, Ajón said. “Four out of the five nurses were people who I didn't previously know.”
Ajón is the force behind the #NikeforNurses, a movement that has now raised close to $10,000 via GoFundMe. “I am proud of the progress made from its launch less than two weeks ago,” she said with pride.
Nurses are such an important part of society and the positive response reflects the outpouring of respect and love that people have for them. “So many nurses have reached out to me thanking me for even thinking about them,” Ajón said, expressing her gratitude. “I constantly remind them that many more people are appreciative of the work they do every day.”
The #NikeforNurses campaign has even caught the attention of the popular sportswear brand. “I am currently in communication with people who work at Nike, but there is no corporate participation, yet,” she shared, “I am hoping to change that.”
According to Ajón, 27 nurses have received the Nike Winflo 5 sneakers. There are 23 pairs of sneakers en route to nurses, and 20 pairs of sneakers are set to arrive soon for her to personally add a “Thank You!” card.
Ajón says that she’s grateful for the feedback she’s received from the nurses she has helped thus far. “One nurse mentioned that she put the ‘Thank You!’ card near her keys to read for motivation when she heads out for the day,” she said. “Many nurses have expressed that they are happy to receive the appreciation with an item that they call an essential part of their uniforms.”
Ajón plans to continue her efforts to make nurses more comfortable while they continue to aid people who are ill due to COVID-19. “I will send sneakers for as long as the donations allow,” she said, enthusiastically. “One nurse explained to me that she will have to discard her old sneakers after she no longer works in the COVID-19 unit so that she is not contaminating her home and to eliminate health risk to others. That is a concern that I did not consider, but that gives us a reason to keep going.”
It is people like Ajón that make us proud! Keep going, sis!
To learn how you can help or nominate a nurse to receive a pair of comfortable sneakers, visit gofundme.com/f/nikesfornurses and on Instagram. Be sure to tag Nike and hashtag #NikeforNurses to spread the word!
(Photo: Alicia Crump-Bush via Ajón)
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