Governor Janet Mills announced today that, as a result of the generosity of the Kraft family, Maine will send four health care superheroes to Super Bowl LV in Tampa, Florida as part of an all-expenses paid trip that includes roundtrip travel on the New England Patriots team plane.
The four Mainers will be part of a group of 76 vaccinated healthcare workers hailing from all six New England states and representing a range of hospitals and roles, all of which have been supporting COVID-19 units during the pandemic, according to the New England Patriots. The mission of this trip is two-fold: to recognize and thank a representative group of the countless healthcare superheroes in New England and to celebrate and spread the important message of getting vaccinated.
“I am grateful to the Kraft family for providing this special gift to our frontline COVID healthcare workers as a measure of our enduring gratitude,” said Governor Janet Mills. “I ask all Maine people to join me in thanking all of our healthcare workers who have heeded the call of duty and worked long hours, days, and weeks, often at great sacrifice to themselves and their families, to protect Maine people during this extraordinary crisis.”
“Last April, when our plane returned with masks from China, we never could have imagined the devastation this pandemic would cause, nor could we have dreamed of the heroic stories and achievements that have come to be as a result, especially the dedication of healthcare workers on the front lines and the creation of safe and effective vaccines,” said Patriots Chairman and CEO Robert Kraft. “Ten months later, it’s an honor for us to celebrate these healthcare 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. We hope that in doing so, others are also encouraged to get vaccinated as they are able. Once again, we want to say thank you from the bottom of our hearts to all of the healthcare heroes who have risked their well-being to ensure ours. They are truly superheroes to us.”
The Kraft family offered four tickets to each of the governors outside of Massachusetts, including Governor Mills, who then selected healthcare superheroes from their respective states, for a total of 20 individuals representing Maine, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont. After soliciting applications for frontline healthcare heroes through the Maine Health Care Association and the Maine Hospital Association, Governor Mills randomly drew names to select Maine’s four winners. They are:
Joe Looper, Emergency Department Nurse at Mercy Hospital: Joe Looper serves as a Certified Emergency Nurse at Mercy Hospital where he has been on the frontline during the COVID-19 pandemic, caring for Maine people. He has also obtained his Trauma Nurse certification and is a Basic Life Support instructor through the American Red Cross. In addition to caring for emergency room patients, he is also a member of the Maine National Guard, has been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, and has been awarded the Army Achievement Medal twice, the State Safety Award, Valorous Unit Award, Combat Medical Badge, Army Commendation Medal and Army Achievement Award.
Cathy Bean, Manager of Clinical and Community Health Services Northern Light Home Care & Hospice: Cathy Bean, who was recently honored by the Home Care & Hospice Alliance of Maine with its Distinguished Service Award, has been on the frontlines, helping to take care of Maine’s most vulnerable and underserved. For more than a decade, she has been the leader in coordinating the influenza vaccination efforts in schools, businesses, homeless shelters and migrant communities. When the pandemic took hold, she used her experience to design and stand up COVID-19 testing sites and to develop a daily COVID screening process for those residing at multiple homeless shelters and quarantine locations. She is also putting that experience to use now developing COVID-19 vaccination sites. She also serves as the Chair of the Cumberland District Public Health Council where she is integral in fighting inequity to create equal access to health care across the county and state.
Lisa Ireland, Registered Nurse at RiverRidge Center: Lisa Ireland is a registered nurse at RiverRidge Center where she has been on the frontlines throughout the pandemic. She often works every day of the week, across multiple shifts, performing hundreds of COVID-19 tests on other frontline staff and patients. She also serves as the infection prevention and control leader for RiverRidge.
Patrick Keaney, Pulmonary Physician at Mid Coast Hospital: Dr. Patrick Keaney is a pulmonary physician at Mid Coast Hospital where he has been key to the organization’s COVID-19 preparation and response efforts. As the pandemic took hold, Dr. Keaney took on the dual role of caring for all COVID-19-positive patients at Mid Coast Hospital during the first several weeks of the pandemic while also serving tirelessly as one of the hospital’s sources of information about the disease. For six straight weeks without a break, he arrived each morning to care for ill patients, share the latest information on treatment options, and offer words of encouragement to those around him.
Behind these four individuals are thousands of Maine health care providers whose heroism is saving the lives of Maine people. These include but are not limited to: intensive care unit, nursing facility, home health, and hospice staff who have comforted patients who have died of COVID-19; emergency medical technicians who respond to emergencies regardless of the risk to themselves; certified nursing assistants and other long-term services and support staff who provide lifelines to often-isolated residents; and health care providers putting COVID-19 shots in arms to give hope during this global pandemic.
In addition to one Super Bowl LV ticket and the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to fly on the Patriots team plane, the 76 healthcare workers selected for this trip will also receive the following, courtesy of the Kraft family with help from the NFL: transportation from Gillette Stadium to Logan Airport with police escort, a ticket to the NFL TikTok Tailgate concert headlined by Miley Cyrus exclusively for vaccinated healthcare workers, a two-night complimentary hotel stay provided by Mark Stebbins and Leo Xarras of XSS Hotels, owner of both the Renaissance Hotel and Hilton Garden Inn at Patriot Place, a Patriots gift bag, a $100 VISA gift card to spend at Raymond James Stadium and ground transportation in Tampa.
The healthcare superheroes will depart from Boston Logan Airport the morning of Sunday, February 7, 2021. The guests will arrive and board the Patriots plane from the very same hangar that received the plane filled with 1.2 million respirator masks on April 2, 2020. Patriots Chairman and CEO Robert Kraft will then greet these superheroes upon arrival at Tampa International Airport. Once in Tampa, they will attend the NFL TikTok Tailgate concert, followed by the Super Bowl. They will return to Boston on the Patriots team plane after the game, arriving back at Gillette Stadium to complete their rewarding and memorable day.
Maine media who are interested in arranging interviews with Maine’s four winners may contact Rick Erb with the Maine Health Care Association and Steven Michaud with the Maine Hospital Association.