Imagine receiving an invitation to the Super Bowl from one of the most powerful men in sports. You have never met him or spoken, yet he wants to fly you on his personal plane and pay for you to go to the biggest sporting event in the country. That, actually happened to several Connecticut health care workers this week.
New England Patriots Team owner, Robert Kraft, has invited 76 New England health care workers to an all-expense paid trip to Sunday’s big game. Among them, Raymond Bell, a 25-year employee of Yale New Haven Health.
“I’m humbled, excited. I’m grateful and I feel blessed,” Bell said, explaining that he’s always wanted to see a Super Bowl in person.
Bell is one of five Connecticut healthcare workers to be invited by the Patriots. Community Health Care nurse Tara Fagan is another. Wednesday, she was administering vaccines, still thinking about her invitation.
“It was, a little shocking honestly,” said Fagan. “I was like, I just need a minute to process this because really who calls you on a Friday night telling you you’re going to the Super Bowl?”
All 76 New England health care workers who’ve been invited will fly to Tampa Bay, “Players Class.”
“You’re going to be leaving on the Patriots plane, flown down and back,” said Kraft, addressing several of the recipients during a ZOOM call. Kraft explained to his healthcare guests that they will take the team’s customized Boeing 767. The same plane the players fly on.
Kraft said this is being done to recognize the heroic efforts of frontline workers, a meaningful gesture for these deserving recipients.
“It means that they truly appreciate, the sacrifices and the things that we do to help keep people safe,” said Bell.
The list of Connecticut health care workers who will be a Patriots guest also includes Danbury Hospital nurse Emma Kneisel and St. Francis Hospital nurse Matt Blouin.
“It’s like a dream come true,” said Blouin. “I have no words to describe how excited I am to be part of this.”
Blouin is one of two Trinity Health Care employees being invited. Cherie Rodriguez, of Mercy Medical Center in Springfield was the other. Blouin, a life-long Patriot fan, has a somewhat conflicted rooting interest.
“I’ve got a root for the Patr…uh, the Buccaneers,” he said with a bit of a Freudian slip.
“Just a commitment to Tom Brady,” he added with a laugh.
The Patriots aren’t the only area team inviting health care workers from Connecticut. The Giants recently invited a Cheryl Greenberg, a Quest Diagnostics phlebotomist from Hamden, to be one of their guests.