SARASOTA, Fla. - NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell recently crashed a Zoom meeting at Sarasota Memorial Hospital for a special reason.
"Throughout the last year, you’ve been America’s real MVPs, the most valuable people," he said on the video call.
This group has sacrificed a lot as they've worked to care for COVID-19 patients.
"I am the son of a nurse and all of you have a very special place in my heart," Goodell shared.
As Tampa transforms into the host city of Super Bowl LV, he had an offer few would refuse.
"The reason why I wanted to get on this call for a minute to thank you all is I wanted to tell you we want your team to be there," he explained.
An invitation to be in the stands of Raymond James Stadium for the biggest game in the NFL. After months of putting their own lives and families at risk, the news brought a mix of emotions.
"Shocked. Tearful. We felt appreciated. We were recognized. We get to go," said nurse Sherrie Sheppard.
Twenty-four members of SMH's 5 Waldamere Tower will go to the Super Bowl. They'll make up 7,500 vaccinated health care workers invited to the Super Bowl by the NFL. Sarasota Memorial was the first to be invited.
"You don’t even believe it. It’s like a fairy tale almost. It’s amazing. Hopefully, we are there to root on the Bucs. That would be awesome," said nurse Stephen Smith.
The medical team has faced hardships through the loss of life. They've worked day in and out to save patients. The families they've reunited is the victory they've fought so hard to win together.
"We've worked together as a team. Now we get to go on and possibly cheer on our home team at the Super Bowl," said Sheppard.
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