The NFL announced it would be sending nearly 7,500 health care workers to the Big Game in Tampa as a thank you for their constant hard work and dedication during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Even though the Patriots won’t be playing in the Super Bowl on Sunday, the team plane is still headed down to the Sunshine State. Seventy-six frontline workers will be flying to Florida from New England on the team’s “AirKraft.”
In April, when the COVID-19 pandemic led to shortage of N-95 masks, the same plane carried over one million masks from China.
Kristin Baker, the Emergency Department Nurse Manager at UVM Medical Center is one of the lucky Vermonters headed to Tampa. Baker shared that she found out in a phone call and almost didn’t think it was real.
The Patriots are providing a once in a lifetime experience for frontline workers who have continued to put others needs ahead of their own.
“Covid was just one piece of what we have dealt with this past year. It means the world to be able to kind of escape for just a short period of time. But, also to be with like-minded people who I already feel so bonded to because a lot of these workers have gone through similar stuff this past year” said Baker.
The fan limit at Raymond James Stadium this year is set to 25,000. Making this the smallest attendance in Super Bowl history.
“I can’t even imagine what it must be like to attend a Super Bowl a normal year. To be able to go to a Super Bowl that so many other people can’t go to. I hope I can live in the moment. I’m sure it’s overwhelming too just given the uniqueness of the year” said Baker.
When it comes to the Big Game, Kristin knows which team she’ll be rooting for. “I’m a Patriots fan, a New England fan for sure. But, I’m also a huge Tom Brady fan, a huge Gronk fan so, I’m really excited to see them play” said Baker.
During the pandemic she shared that the first glimmer of hope was the vaccine coming out. Baker never imagined that her year would start off with a trip to Super Bowl LV.
“With the vaccine on board this type of trip is possible. It gives me so much hope that 2021 can be a different year.”
She’ll be rooting for Brady and the Buccaneers on Sunday during her short trip in Tampa. While at the game Baker will be wearing a TB 12 Patriots jersey.
Kickoff for the Chiefs vs. Buccaneers is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. ET