TAMPA, Fla. - Sonya Bryson-Kirksey, the Tampa Bay Lightning’s national anthem singer for home games, has been moved to the intensive care unit, several days after being hospitalized for COVID-19, her husband tells FOX 13.
Sonya tested positive for the delta variant last week and was admitted to a Bay Area hospital, but her husband Jimmie Kirksey Jr. said her condition has since taken a turn for the worse.
"Last night her fever got worse and they moved her to the ICU," Kirksey said. "Hopefully it will break soon."
Sonya is a familiar face during Lightning games and her vocal performance during the national anthem is a tradition before the puck drops at home games. For a few years now, Bryson-Kirksey has been battling multiple sclerosis. There is currently no cure for the disease.
Because of the immunocompromised disease, Sonya was set to remain hospitalized for at least two weeks as a precaution.
According to the Mayo Clinic, the immune system for those who have multiple sclerosis attacks the protective sheath that covers nerve fibers and causes communication problems between the brain and body.
Over the years, Sonya hasn’t been shy about her symptoms.
"If there is something I can do to help someone else; either talking about it, explaining my experiences or working to raise funds for a greater cause, I'm gonna do it. That's just me," she told FOX 13 in 2019. "Do you what you can while you can because you never know what tomorrow holds."
Her husband said Sonya was previously vaccinated, and believes she was exposed to the virus during the Stanley Cup championship celebrations.
"We've been trying to be protective of her, you know, because of her M.S. She was wearing her mask and fans were like ‘Can you take it down so we can take a picture?’ Jimmie explained. "So she takes it down to take a picture and stuff and lo and behold... this is what happens. With her being like this, she is going to wear her mask from now one. So, if someone asks to take it down...I hate it for ya."
He said with the vaccine, it may help, but it doesn’t prevent someone from contracting COVID-19.
"That’s the thing that most people think, ‘I got the vaccinations, so I’m good," Jimmie said. "The doctors told me because my immune system is better than hers, because she has M.S. So her immune system is down, lower than mine."
He said his wife wanted to make people aware of the importance of getting the vaccine.
"Her words are, ‘Please go get vaccinated,’" Jimmie said. "If not for yourself, for others because not getting vaccinated, you could be a carrier and you could harm others even if they have the vaccination."