When Super Bowl LV kicked off in Tampa on February 7, four local women were among the 7,500 vaccinated health care workers in the crowd. They won a drawing by the National Football League to thank and honor them for their extraordinary service during the pandemic.
“Our first invitation from the NFL was to be cutouts at the Super Bowl, and we were so excited,” says Stephanie Carraway, a die-hard football fan who grew up in Tavernier/Islamorada. Scoring tickets to the game, “I felt like I won the lottery,” says the infection preventionist.
When Jennifer Svob heard about the ticket giveaway, the recovery room nurse who returned to critical care nursing says she was motivated to drive
20 minutes to Tampa to get the vaccine so she would qualify for the drawing.
“I have a husband and three sons, but I am the biggest sports fan in my house,” Jennifer says, noting the induction of her favorite player, Peyton Manning, into the Pro Football Hall of Fame was icing on the cake. “The Bucs are my team, and the game was in Tampa. It was such an incredible experience.”
Bucs fan and pre-anesthesia nurse Rhonda Dosal had not attended a game in 10 years. The recognition was particularly meaningful because nursing is a family affair. Rhonda earned her degree alongside two of her three daughters.
“It was heartwarming to see so many health care workers in one place being honored during COVID time,” Rhonda says. “I was honored, but I’m not a hero.”
Pre-op/recovery nurse Marcy Ware—who attended Nebraska games but had never been to an NFL game—was excited to learn former Cornhusker Ndamukong Suh now plays for Tampa Bay and would be in the Super Bowl.
“I didn’t watch football at all,” Marcy says. “I barely knew Tom Brady played for the Buccaneers, but I knew this was a big deal. The whole experience, energy and celebration after a really bad year was emotional. I felt guilty because I’m not doing anything anyone else isn’t doing. To see people come together and celebrate after such a tough year, I still don’t have the words to describe what it meant. We were treated like royalty. It was one of the top five experiences of my life—and that includes getting married and having three daughters.”
Stephanie says the pandemic was everything she was taught in school, “but nothing I could have ever prepared for. I remember hearing pagers in my sleep and feeling overwhelmed, wondering if it was ever going to end.”
Arriving at the Super Bowl pregame concert, “it was so uplifting knowing every person around me played a part in keeping our nation safe,” she says. “We felt truly appreciated. It was a very humbling experience. I am forever grateful.”