The Patriots may not be playing in the Super Bowl, but their team plane is still headed to Tampa.
The “AirKraft” will be transporting 76 health care workers to Sunday’s game, as part of an all-expenses-paid trip from Patriots owner Robert Kraft. The workers, who were all vaccinated for COVID-19 at least two weeks prior to their departure, hail from the six New England states.
Already, the NFL had announced that among the 22,000 spectators at this year’s Super Bowl would be 7,500 health care workers. The vast majority would be from the Tampa area, but each NFL team could select a handful of local workers to attend the game as part of the celebration.
The eight locals selected are Massachusetts General Hospital employees: Godfrey Adamu, an overnight shift supervisor for the clinical support services team; Dr. Joshua Baugh, the emergency department’s assistant director of clinical operations/physicians; Catherine Chittick, a nurse in the infusion unit; Dr. Michelle Diop, a second-year resident in internal medicine; Jacqueline Garvey, a respiratory therapist; Lisa Martino, the hospital’s materials management manager; Tyrone Walker-White, a unit service associate for the clinical support services team; and Jairah Zinni, a nurse in the emergency department.
“I believe that many of the people in our health care industries are underappreciated,” Kraft said in a statement. “They risk their well-being to ensure ours. It is what they do every day. During this pandemic, those health care workers have truly been superheroes.
“These eight individuals represent the work of all of our health care workers. We are honored to recognize and reward them with this trip to Tampa for Super Bowl LV. It is nice to care for those who provide such compassionate care for us.”
And the 68 others taking the trip on the Patriots plane will come from all six New England states, according to a release. Governors of each state outside of Massachusetts chose four individuals for the trip, with the rest of the tickets going to hospitals throughout Massachusetts.
The health care workers will arrive and board the AirKraft from the same hangar at Logan Airport that received the plane when it delivered 1.2 million N95 protective masks from China in April.
Upon arriving in Tampa, Kraft will be there to greet them.
“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 health care workers on the front lines and the creation of safe and effective vaccines,” Kraft said in a statement.
“Ten months later, 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. We hope that in doing so, others are also encouraged to get vaccinated as they are able.”
Last month, Gillette Stadium opened as the first large-scale COVID-19 vaccination site in Massachusetts.
Nicole Yang can be reached at email@example.com.