TAMPA, Fla. - It's a voice that Lightning fans have come to know and love.
Recently, there is not as much air behind it as there normally is as retired Air Force sergeant Sonya Bryson-Kirksey – who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis a few years ago – continues to battle COVID-19. Because of the immunocompromised disease, she will remain hospitalized for at least two weeks as a precaution.
"She’s feeling OK. She has her problems with the breathing. She's not on a ventilator, not in critical condition," her husband, Jimmie Kirksey Jr., told FOX 13
He revealed Thursday that Sonya was previously vaccinated and has the highly contagious delta variant. It’s believed 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."
For Jimmie, the worst part is not being able to be there for her like he has been during all of her ups and downs with M.S.
"I miss her because I can't even go and see her. I have to wait for a phone call when she can talk. The only thing I got to remind me of her is her ring," he said while holding her Stanley Cup championship ring. "Her ring and her jersey is all I got for now."
"That’s the saddest part," Jimmie added, "to hear your wife cry to you and there is nothing you can do."
Sonya fills Lightning nation with happiness and joy, and she says there is one thing we can do for her.
"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."
1771 Designs, a local T-shirt company, is raising money for the Kirkseys. The business had previously created a shirt with the words, "Puck Multiple Sclerosis," in honor of Sonya. All proceeds made from the shirt are donated to the National MS Society.