WHO: Willie Nelson, CharityAuctions.com, and a thoughtful fan.
WHAT: An auction to raise money to make more masks.
WHY IT’S SO GREAT: Music fan Tanya Boike was at the Houston Rodeo on March 4 to see Willie Nelson. A week later, the remaining events at the rodeo were canceled as the spread of COVID-19 led to an end to large gatherings around the country. According to Houston’s KTRK, Boike thought of Willie when she sat at her sewing machine, as the nation began locking down and masking up. She reached out through Noelle Ward—Willie’s granddaughter and an acquaintance of Boike’s—and offered to make a pair of masks for him and his wife.
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“They said, ‘You know what, we’re really good, we’re already taken care of, but we would like to donate them or auction them off. How about we sign them and auction them off?'” Ward told KTRK.
The face masks are made of the red bandana material Willie’s made famous over the decades, and—at the auction website launched on Friday—now come emblazoned with his autograph. The auctions, which close on Wednesday, had bids totaling almost $4,500 as of Monday afternoon.
Concerns over Willie’s health have been relatively common on social media during the coronavirus pandemic. Willie is 86 years old, and as celebrities from Tom Hanks and Idris Elba (who both recovered) to John Prine (who died from the virus in early April) have fallen ill, the state of Willie’s health and safety is on people’s minds, if only because there’s no shortage of people and things to worry about, and Willie Nelson is a national treasure.
Still, Willie is easy enough to check in on. He’s been fairly prolific as a performer streaming from home, playing one of the earliest fundraiser events of the quarantine era on March 19, as well as a Farm Aid fundraiser on April 11, a 4/20 streamed-from-home festival featuring appearances from pals like Matthew McConaughey and Kacey Musgraves, and an Earth Day event on April 25. He’s unmasked while he’s singing, and presumably wearing a mask whenever he’s around anyone he doesn’t live with—and we’ll expect to see more of him on our screens until it’s safe for him to get back on the road again.