Brandon Regional Hospital ER Nurse Veronica Trias lives in Channing Park and attended the Super Bowl.

The NFL found a very special way to thank many of the healthcare professionals who risked their lives on the front lines during 2020. In late January, 7,500 local essential workers received free tickets to Super Bowl LV where they were treated to a first-class experience at Tampa’s Raymond James Stadium, including free food and drinks, tickets to the TikTok tailgate featuring Miley Cyrus and more.

Bloomingdale resident Blair Alsup is a registered dietitian who works in the Moffitt Cancer Center ICU and cared for COVID-19 patients during the worst of the pandemic. After receiving her second dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in January, she learned that she had won a ticket to the Super Bowl from the NFL.

“This whole year has been so stressful and emotional working in healthcare,” said Alsup. “But I trusted science and didn’t pass up the first opportunity to get vaccinated, and then I was rewarded with a free Super Bowl ticket and the experience of a lifetime, and I was a part of history watching the Tampa Bay Bucs win at Raymond James Stadium. It felt like I won the lotto doing what I love … taking care of patients.”

Brandon Regional Hospital ER Nurse Veronica Trias lives in Channing Park.

“I have never attended such a big event before and was very humbled and grateful to be chosen,” said Trias. “I was actually working when I found out. An email came out telling us we were chosen. Word spread quickly around the department and we were incredibly excited. Some were in tears.”

The way she and other healthcare workers were treated at the event meant a lot to Trias.

“During the game, the NFL made it a point to honor us in many ways through signs, videos and stadium staff continuously thanking us for our service,” she said. “We truly felt special and appreciated that day.”

Valrico resident Tiffany Click is an obstetrics RN at Brandon Regional Hospital. Before this year, she had only attended one NFL game in her life but was thrilled to attend the Super Bowl with other vaccinated healthcare workers.

Despite the fact that she was not able to sit with people that she knew, Click enjoyed the game.

“All of the 7,000 healthcare workers were completely split up and did not get seats together with our coworkers or facilities,” she said. “I was sitting alone but by other healthcare workers from TGH, BayCare and AdventHealth. Even though we were all strangers, we were all connected through this incredible event. It was amazing to be honored by the NFL.”

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Kate Quesada is the Multimedia Manager for the Osprey Observer Newspapers. She has been working for the paper in various positions since 2005 when she graduated with her Masters degree in mass communications. She lives in Valrico with her husband Mike and son Dylan.