CGI Windows & Doors Celebrates Local Hero Who Sews and Donates Ear Savers for Hospital Workers with $2,000 Prize

December 8, 2020
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Katie Lizana has sewn thousands of mask holder straps, also called ear savers, and it all started with a ripped-up bed sheet.

Lizana’s neighbor is a nurse who works in a local South Florida hospital. After seeing pictures of nurses’ ears being heavily irritated from wearing multiple masks for hours at a time, she knew there had to be a way to make them more comfortable. She found inspiration from something that looked like a hair comb and transformed the idea into a ripped-up bed sheet with a button on each end to secure the mask to the back of the head. This simple idea made a great difference in alleviating the pressure behind the ears. After giving the ear saver to her neighbor and seeing it as a huge success, Lizana began to make dozens of ear savers using ribbons and buttons.

Once she finished making several hundred for her neighbor’s hospital unit, Lizana made 10-20 ear savers at a time and began distributing them around the area. Her selfless deeds earned her the recognition of popular trauma nurse and coordinator Luis DeRosa (@TheTraumaGuy), who shared her mask holder straps on his Instagram account to his thousands of fans. Soon after, Lizana began to get requests from across the country. This was her way of supporting healthcare heroes from Seattle to San Diego to South Florida. Lizana, who lives in Hollywood, Florida, estimates that she has shipped thousands of ear savers to somewhere between 85 and 100 hospitals since April.

“When I send out a batch of ear savers and then get a picture of an entire hospital ward saying ‘thank you so much’, it keeps me happy and makes me feel like I’m doing my little part in all of this,” said Lizana, who is a third-generation watch maker.

Some people insisted Lizana accept money for the ear savers, but she always declined.

“There’s no way I could take money for this,” Lizana said.

Instead, she has urged people to make a donation to Mobile School Pantry, whose mission is to provide nutritious, healthy grocery items to students and families at low-income schools throughout South Florida, or Project Alive, an organization working to find and fund a cure for Hunter Syndrome through research and advocacy. She strongly supports and advocates for these two organizations that could use the additional help during these times.

Lizana’s dedication to helping healthcare workers across the country has earned her the honor of being named the second winner of the CGI Heroes: Celebrating Strength contest and its $2,000 prize.

“Katie has an inspiring story. To see something start as a kind gesture between neighbors and grow to help thousands of people across the country is truly incredible,” said Bob Keller, President of the Southeast Business Unit for PGT Innovations, CGI’s parent company. “Katie’s story is a great reminder to us all that even an act that starts small or simple can flourish to have a far-reaching impact.”

Do you know someone who’s gone above and beyond to help others in your community? With just one week left until the deadline, now is the time to nominate them for CGI Window & Door’s CGI Heroes: Celebrating Strength contest! The final day to enter is Wednesday, November 18.

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