Marty Verel, a 59-year-old kidney transplant recipient in Ohio
, should have been near the top of the list to receive a COVID-19 vaccine
, but he and his wife, Nancy Verel, would sit with computers on their laps for hours, trying to book an appointment on various sites, all of which were slow and convoluted.
Then Nancy learned about Marla Zwinggi, a 40-year-old mother of three from a Cleveland suburb who was spending up to ten hours a day online trying to secure appointments for vulnerable people
. Nancy messaged Zwinggi on Facebook
: Can you help? Twenty-five minutes later, Zwinggi responded by asking for Marty's legal name, date of birth, and other information.
Zwinggi's vaccine search began on February 1, when she discovered that her parents—her father has leukemia and her mother is a breast cancer
survivor with a heart condition—were unable to get appointments for themselves. She despised the fact that they had to wait.
“I’m tenacious. I drink a lot of coffee, and I’m a fast typer,” she says. Soon, Zwinggi had secured appointments for both of her parents. “I felt like a rock star,” she says.
Zwinggi decided that helping others would be her way of giving back. “I feel like I need to will us out of this pandemic
,” she says. On February 10, she posted on Facebook that she was assisting with bookings, and by March 2, she had secured appointments for 400 people, prompting Nancy to conclude, “Marla is some sort of COVID angel.”