The New England Patriots may not be participating in Super Bowl 55 later this week, but their team plane is nevertheless making the trip down to Tampa for the game. On board is some precious cargo: 76 healthcare workers representing all six New England states.
As guests of team owner Robert Kraft and his family, they were surprised with an all-expenses roundtrip to the title game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers — featuring former Patriots Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski — and the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs. This also includes flying to Florida and back on one of the personalized planes the organization acquired a few years ago.
Kraft surprised the healthcare workers earlier this week, making the announcement via video call:
As guests of the Kraft family, 76 healthcare heroes are Bowl bound.— New England Patriots (@Patriots) February 2, 2021
Earlier this week, Robert Kraft called to personally invite some of these heroes and thank them for their work fighting COVID-19.
“What are you guys doing this weekend? Would you like to go to the Super Bowl?” the Patriots’ team owner asked the healthcare workers participating in the call. Needless to say that the response was a positive one, as the video above shows.
The trip itself has two purposes. It is meant as a recognition of those actively being involved in the fight against the Coronavirus pandemic all over New England, and to spread awareness about getting vaccinated. The 76 people participating in the trip have already gotten their vaccine doses, as have the nearly 7,500 fellow healthcare workers who have been invited by the NFL to also visit the Super Bowl.
New England using its resources in charitable fashion is nothing new, meanwhile.
Back in 2018, the Patriots employed their “AirKraft” to pick up students from Marjory Stoneman-Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida for an anti gun violence rally in Washington D.C. Just last year, the Kraft Family also arranged for one of their planes to fly to China to help deliver 1.2 million protective masks to Massachusetts. On Sunday, another trip is on schedule for a good cause.
“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 Robert Kraft in a statement released by the club on Tuesday.
“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.”
In the meantime, the Patriots’ facility at Gillette Stadium will continue to be used as a mass vaccination site. As of last week, 10,000 vaccine doses have been distributed.