CONCORD — When Nurses Jessica Tellier and Jenn Castellano were pulled aside from their shifts at Emerson Hospital on Monday to hop on an impromptu Zoom call, they simply assumed they were responding to yet another patient.
Then Robert Kraft’s face came up on the screen.
“I was just shocked,” Tellier said. “We didn’t find out until we actually got on to the Zoom call, so I had no clue what was going on.”
That confusion was quickly remedied, as the New England Patriots owner informed the two that they were chosen to receive an all-expenses paid trip to Super Bowl LV in Tampa, Fla., including roundtrip travel on the team plane.
“I’m so excited to experience the whole thing,” said Castellano, a 20-year veteran at Emerson Hospital. “I’ve never been to a football game in my life, even though I’m a huge Pats fan. So to go to the Super Bowl, to see Tom Brady and Gronk, it’s a dream.”
The nurses will be joined by 74 other health care workers from across New England to see the Tampa Bay Buccaneers face off against the reigning champion Kansas City Chiefs, as part of an effort from the National Football League to both thank the “health care heroes” for their hard work during the coronavirus pandemic and to reinforce the importance of getting vaccinated.
“I’m really looking forward to seeing other health care workers. That’s awesome, like that’s a huge honor,” said Tellier, who has worked at the hospital since 2008. “When we were on the video chat, our coworkers were in the background cheering us on, everyone’s psyched.”
The news comes 10 months after Kraft and the Patriots made headlines for using the team plane to ferry a million N95 masks from China, providing health care workers with critically important PPE at a time when such resources were scarce in Massachusetts.
“It’s an honor for us to celebrate these health care workers by giving them a well-deserved break for a day and an opportunity to enjoy the Super Bowl, a reality that is only made possible because of the vaccines,” Kraft said in a statement. “We want to say thank you from the bottom of our hearts to all of the health care heroes who have risked their well-being to ensure ours. They are truly superheroes to us.”
Both Tellier and Castellano, residents of Pepperell and Winchendon, respectively, described themselves as massive Patriots fans and said that while they’d love to be seeing Brady playing this game in a Pats uniform, they couldn’t possibly be more excited to see him perform in yet another championship game.
“Honestly, I don’t really care who wins. I just hope it’s an awesome game and I’m really psyched to be going,” Tellier said. “Pat Mahomes? Brady? Bring it.”
In addition to the tickets and transportation, the health care workers were also gifted tickets to a pre-game concert headlined by Miley Cyrus, a two-night complimentary hotel stay, a Patriots gift bag and a $100 VISA gift card to spend at Raymond James Stadium.
All of the attending workers, including Tellier and Castellano, will be fully vaccinated prior to leaving for the game and will go through required safety protocols before returning to caring for patients.