KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A few University of Kansas Health System frontline workers watched history unfold Sunday at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida.
They were among the 7,500 health care workers that the NFL invited to watch Super Bowl LV in person, as the Kansas City Chiefs took on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
"To have this type of experience and to have your team from home involved is amazing," John Sorrick, team lead respiratory therapist at the University of Kansas Hospital, said. "It's just awe inspiring."
They all said it was a trip of a lifetime.
"I don't even know [how to] fully wrap my head around it yet," Kelsey Belzer, a registered nurse at HaysMed The University of Kansas Health System, said.
Belzer and Sorrick are helping COVID-19 patients every day. Because of their constant life-saving efforts, they were invited to see their favorite team play in the Super Bowl alongside other health care workers.
"I was so humbled to be asked," Belzer said. "I know there are so many health care workers who have done so much in this pandemic. The fact that the University of Kansas Health System chose me to represent them was just amazing to me."
When they arrived at Raymond James Stadium, Sorrick said, the NFL provided them with a special gate to walk through.
"The staff was just cheering us on, and it just felt so such an uplifting environment," Sorrick said. "So it was so nice."
Health care professionals from throughout the country also were able to share with each other their experiences during the past year of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"To be able to talk to people who understand, who truly get the situation and the experiences that you've been going through this last year – I am not a veteran. I have never been to war. But, I imagine it's a lot of the same type of soldier camaraderie that you get if, you know, you've been there, you've seen it. So, it's easier to share," Sorrick said.
And under their masks at the game were smiles, reflecting a moment of relief from the pandemic.