The Pittsburgh Steelers have surprised four local healthcare workers with trips to Super Bowl LV in Tampa.
Four vaccinated UPMC hospital workers will be heading to the big game, part of a larger initiative by the league’s 32 clubs to reward individuals in their communities with an all-expense paid trip.
Registered Nurse Justin Gossett, Director of Maintenance and Engineering Pat Hogan, Respiratory Team Member Marcus Paxton and Director of Respiratory Care Services Breen Smith learned of their nominations back in January. They were surprised with the news on a video message from Pro Football Hall of Famer and former Steelers center Dermontti Dawson.
“We are so thankful for what you have done to care for those with COVID-19 in the Pittsburgh community over the past year,” Dawson said. “As a very special thank you, on behalf of the Steelers and the National Football League, we are so happy send you on an all-expense paid trip to Super Bowl LV in Tampa.”
Their ensuing reactions were as heartwarming as expected.
“I really appreciate this honor,” Hogan told Steelers.com. “For me, I am just part of a team. That is the way my staff thinks. Everything we did, we did for the hospital because that is what we do, that is what our job is. They did the same thing at all of the other hospitals. It’s not that I am unique. It’s just that I did what you asked me to do.”
“I am excited to travel down to Tampa for the Super Bowl. Having the vaccine, both doses of it, gives me a little more comfort, but that doesn’t mean you are invincible. The CDC and everyone that knows way more than I do still make the recommendations to wear a mask, socially distance and wash your hands. We are still in the infancy of this thing. To get to this point and it’s not impacted me, I am going to listen to what the experts say and not be foolish.”
Smith expressed her surprise and gratitude as well.
“I am still overwhelmed, taken aback,” Smith told Steelers.com. “I felt humbled. I have always been a Steelers fan. My father is a season ticket holder. It’s been in my family. My oldest brother, he was disabled, and to spend time with him we watched a lot of sporting events. We would reenact Franco’s (Harris) big play. I can’t remember a Sunday without watching Steelers football. It’s been a very important part of my life.”
The Kansas City Chiefs will battle the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium on Sunday, Feb. 7. Super Bowl LV kicks off at 6:30 p.m.