As the number of people infected with coronavirus increased across the country last week, Adam Gutierrez had an upset feeling.
The Broomfield area promoter and sportswear maker had seen his family's biggest event of the year canceled by COVID-19 just a week earlier. But he couldn't avoid the idea that he could help.
It was when Adam, 33, saw New York Governor Andrew Cuomo speak about the lack of face masks for health workers at the front that hit him.
"I have the printers, I have the fabric," said Gutiérrez. "… Maybe we can start helping."
Xtreme Pro Apparel, the Gutiérrez family-owned sportswear company, specializes in producing the antimicrobial fabric needed for wrestling jerseys to combat skin diseases. All the Broomfield High graduate had to do was find a way to reconfigure production to start making facial masks. Late last week, he had his first comeback pattern.
And, a few days after posting the news on the company's social media account, he said more than 700 skins had been ordered.
"This is all getting much bigger than I really thought," Gutiérrez said. "It turns out it was a much bigger need than I thought."
It was all a sharp turn from where things were for the Gutierrez family on March 13, when their promotional company RMN Events had to cancel the Rocky Mountain Nationals youth wrestling tournament at the National Western Complex in Denver.
Scales were established. The mats arranged. And thousands of young fighters from all over the country entered the city. The twentieth edition of the event was hours away when news began circulating that Governor Jared Polis would soon urge cancellation of all events with 250 or more people due to the spread of COVID-19.
"At that point, how do you really have a choice?" Adam said.
There was none.
An event that is expected to draw 10,000 spectators and wrestlers over three days was canceled, forcing the Gutiérrez family to reimburse wrestlers who would no longer compete for the famous and elaborate tournament prizes.
"I don't even know if I can put in a number (how much money was lost)," said Adam, who helps run the family business with his father, Ed; mother, Julie; and two brothers Josh and Jordon.
Soon, that number came to the fore in the face of the coronavirus crisis. And Gutiérrez's plan to produce facial masks was hatched.
The initial design was a double layer mask that is 90% polyester and 10% spandex. But certain changes may need to be made to make the masks medical-grade, Gutierrez said. Once that is resolved, their goal is to start mass-producing masks as quickly as possible, committing to donate a portion of the proceeds to hospitals that need it.
Regarding the tournament, Gutiérrez said that RMN Events will try to reprogram and be as adaptable as possible. But that can wait.
"It is a family business, my two parents and I and my other two brothers," said Gutiérrez. "For us, it's not really about how much you earned or lost. … Dad, it says it's about hard work and a clean life."
Join our Facebook group for the latest updates on Coronavirus in Colorado.