COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (April 3, 2020) - Bethany Zummo (Dublin, California), a 2016 Paralympic gold medalist in sitting volleyball as the starting libero for Team USA, is accustomed to passing volleyballs to her teammates to score points.
With the COVID-19 virus putting much of her volleyball training on hold, Zummo has found another way to continue passing the goods on in a positive way. However, instead of scoring points, her passing is now helping to save lives and protect her community.
Zummo, who dreams of owning her own clothing business where she designs the apparel from start to finish, is creating filtered hospital masks at home and distributing them among her Dublin, California, community to help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
Zummo was disappointed when she learned that the Tokyo Games was postponed until 2021, but she has taken it in stride and using this time for a higher purpose.
“I understand that I don't have control over this virus,” Zummo said. “I know that I will be ready for the Games when they finally happen. However, I'm using this time purposefully, utilizing my skills as a seamstress to help as many people as I can!”
Like many people, Zummo and her family has extra time on their hands at home while in quarantine, and the internet and social media has occupied a chunk of that time. Zummo acknowledges the idea for making the masks came via social media.
“My sisters proposed the idea after seeing a do-it-yourself face mask tutorial on social media,” Zummo said. “I was on board immediately and got to work after researching the most practical way to construct filtered masks. I was especially concerned with the masks being up to par with what the medical community needs.”
Zummo, who has made 50 masks so far in her preliminary work, has a goal to make 250 to 300 masks from the fabric scraps that she has accumulated over the years, but that will not stop her from making more.
“Our goal is to produce as many as possible from the fabric we have collected over the years,” Zummo said. “My mom refuses to let go of excess material, so we have a lot of random patterns and colors to use. I would say we could make about 250 to 300 masks from this material alone. Of course, when we run out of fabric, we are prepared to purchase more fabric to continue our production.”
For now, the masks will stay within her community.
“We will be sending the masks to family and friends who were unable to obtain any protective equipment, as well as medical professionals in our community,” Zummo said.
Zummo is no stranger to the sewing machine, having been taught at a young age and going to college to put her skills to use. In fact, she even created one of her sitting team teammate’s wedding dress.
“My mom and grandma taught me to sew when I was very young,” Zummo said. “In high school, I made all of my homecoming and prom dresses. I went on to college to pursue a degree in theatre design, as a costume designer and technician. Now, I feel like I can use my skills to help others by sewing masks.”
Aside from making masks for her community during the COVID-19 stay-at-home rules, Zummo has remained busy with a growth mindset attitude while also staying in shape for when she can rejoin her teammates on the sitting volleyball courts.
“My family and I are keeping each other busy by teaching classes to each other on a daily basis,” Zummo said. “I taught yoga, my mother taught hula, and my grandma taught a cooking lesson! My aunt and I even participated in one of my team’s online Pilates classes! Additionally, my boyfriend and I have daily workout dates over the phone, which is normal being he lives and trains in Brazil!”
Zummo cannot wait for a time when everyone becomes unmasked and live returns to normal.