When the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Kansas City Chiefs face off in Super Bowl LV, the real heroes will be in the stands at Raymond James Stadium, not on the field.
While people in all walks of life have helped this country get through the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in so many different ways, no group has been more valuable than front-line health care workers who have put their lives at risk to take care of others.
To recognize health care workers' unwavering commitment to serving their communities during this pandemic, the NFL is using Super Bowl LV as a way to honor and thank health care workers by providing approximately 7,500 tickets to vaccinated health care workers. In addition to giving tickets health care workers in the Tampa Bay area, the NFL is also providing four tickets to each NFL team, which in turn will give all-expense paid trips to four vaccinated health care workers in their communities.
The four local health care workers heading to Tampa Bay, employees of Virginia Mason Franciscan Health who were chosen by a random drawing, are:
- Jocelyn Jacoby – Nutrition Assistant,Virginia Mason Medical Center
- Cheryl Caraan, RN – Critical Care Nurse,Virginia Mason Medical Center
- Bo Thach, RN – Registered Nurse, St. Joseph Medical Center
- Lauren Pier, RN – Critical Care Charge Nurse, St. Anthony Hospital
"It is such a huge honor to be one of the health care workers being recognized," said Pier. "This year has been rough on us. Finding out that the Seahawks and the NFL wanted to recognize us this year at the Super Bowl makes us not feel invisible and see that the work we are doing is noticed."
Said Gary S. Kaplan, MD, CEO, Virginia Mason Franciscan Health, "Our work is all about improving the health and well-being of the patients we serve, and I am so proud of all our team members during the COVID-19 response. I truly feel that everyone in our organization has been a hero in this effort. No one saw it coming, and it has transformed our lives."
Added Ketul J. Patel, CEO, Virginia Mason Franciscan Health, "Our team has been managing the pandemic for nearly a year and has demonstrated true heroism and dedication each day while serving our communities. I am so proud of their resilience as we continue to navigate COVID and also administer the vaccine. The future is looking brighter thanks to every member of our team."
In addition to recognizing these health care worker heroes, this initiative also hopes to promote the importance of vaccination and appropriate health practices, including wearing masks in public settings.
Caraan, who in addition to her role as a critical care nurse also added the title of mom in 2020 with the birth of a son in June, emphasized that message of people continuing to do the right thing as vaccinations continue.
"It finally felt like there's a light at the end of this very long tunnel," Caraan said. "I am beholden to the researchers and scientists who have worked diligently to make a safe and effective vaccine. However, that light is still far away, and we still have to keep each other safe by continuing to mask and keep distanced, and get as many people as we can vaccinated, but it's a relief knowing that those who have been vaccinated won't die from COVID."
In a little over a week, the Buccaneers and Chiefs will play for a championship, and after the game a Super Bowl MVP will be named, but this year, the real MVPs will be the heal care workers in the stands and all around the country who have helped get us through this pandemic.
Said Jacoby, a Seattle native who spent two seasons working concessions at the Kingdome when she was a kid, "I am grateful for the opportunity to go to the Super Bowl and to have the spotlight shined on Health Care Workers, front line and those of us just behind, supporting them and our patients."