Bethany Zummo: Pandemic, passion, purpose

While some try to stay active at home to curb the coronavirus spread, United States libero and Rio 2016 Paralympic champion Bethany Zummo took time away from the gym to put her other skill to good use and serve her community in California.

As her wait for their Paralympic title defence is put on hold for a year, Zummo, along with her family, is donating hygienic masks which she has sewn herself.

Zummo’s 93-year-old grandmother introduced her to sewing at a young age, which became her passion as she grew older until she earned a degree in theatre arts and design technology from the University of Central Oklahoma. The USA libero now dedicates this project to her and all the elderly who are affected by the pandemic.

“It’s a terrible, tragic thing, but I think we can use this time purposefully. We can do our part in what we need to do – to stay at home. If you’re not doing this for yourself, do this for your grandma,” Zummo said.

Her family’s project started with a couple of masks. In a week they were able to produce more than a hundred masks and continue to do so for their community, especially the medical frontliners.

“It was actually my siblings who asked for my help. They were like – ‘Hey, you can sew People need masks, maybe we can do some for them.’ Long story short I was on board immediately.


“I’ve got friends asking how much the masks would be but I told them – ‘Don’t worry about it, it’s the least I could do to help.’”

From making her best friend and USA setter Kaleo Kanahele Maclay’s wedding dress to producing face masks for her community, Zummo always found a way to turn her passion into purpose.

“Before this thing started I used to lift weights in the gym, now I’m lifting bags of fabric and curling my body behind the sewing machine. I’m feeling very purposeful doing this project. When I’m doing volleyball I know what my job is, I know what my role is – I have to get a good pass so my teammate can score a point so we can win.


“Now with this coronavirus thing I found a new purpose for my community. I have to create masks so the virus stops spreading. It’s really a shift of perspective of what you have to do in this kind of time.”

Despite doing what she loves outside the court, Zummo’s eyes remain locked in on defending their title in Tokyo.

“I’m just waiting for someone to tell me, ‘Okay, we’re competing.’ I honestly have my bag packed and I’m just ready to go anytime. I really hope we can get this over with so the Games can finally happen.


“You know what they say, you only need three things to be happy in life – someone to love, something to do and something to look forward to. I have my family and my grandma to love, now I’m doing masks so I can help the people around me, and obviously I’m looking forward to the Paralympic Games.”