VANCOUVER -- “I didn’t think it was going to happen to us,” Dana Elliott recalls of the day she found out her husband Keith had COVID-19.

“When we got the phone call that he actually did have it, it really threw me,” she says.

Keith Elliott ended up having to be hospitalized at Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops in mid-March. He spent three days in the intensive care unit on oxygen.

“COVID was no picnic,” Keith says, while laughing. “My lungs still give me a little bit of a hard time.”

The virus then spread to Dana, although she did not need to be hospitalized. Their teenage boys, Lane and Ryder, stayed in their rooms while their parents recovered.

The Kamloops family is sharing their story as British Columbia sees a rise in the number of active COVID-19 cases.

They also want to be part of the solution, so they’re using their passion for lacrosse to help staff at local businesses maintain physical distancing guidelines.

Both Lane and Ryder are avid lacrosse players with Kamloops Minor Lacrosse Association, which is now handing out lacrosse sticks to restaurants in downtown Kamloops.

“The pockets in them are quite ideal for portable handheld debit machines,” explains KMLA’s Nathaniel Martin.

Martin saw a post on Facebook from a pub in Invermere, and since the indoor lacrosse season was cancelled, he figured the unused equipment could be put to good use.

Lacrosse stick COVID-19

“Everyone’s starting to get worried about a second wave,” Martin says. “So we thought, well, what can we do?”

Ryder and Dana Elliott spent Thursday afternoon distributing the sticks to several restaurants.

“They were really appreciative,” Dana says. “They thought it was a great idea.”

The family says they are looking forward to resuming their usual routine of lacrosse on four nights a week.

“Our lives have been scheduled around lacrosse for years now,” Dana explains.

When the indoor season was cancelled, “we basically didn’t know what to do with ourselves,” she added.

The league is gearing up for the start of outdoor lacrosse, which is being phased-in.

For now, the family hopes their story will encourage others to take COVID-19 seriously.

“It’s hard to take seriously if you don’t know someone directly affected … or if you haven’t listened to Ryan Reynolds,” Keith says with a laugh.