When Catherine Wilson received an email at work alerting her that she had won a free ticket to Super Bowl LV, she figured it was spam and quickly deleted it.
Then came the follow-up phone call with the same news.
“I thought it was a prank call,” said Wilson, a North Royalton resident who works as emergency room assistant nurse manager at UH Cleveland Medical Center.
But it was no prank. Together with the Cleveland Browns, University Hospitals had selected three local health care heroes to be the team’s special guests at the Feb. 7 Super Bowl in Tampa Bay and Wilson was one of them, along with Dr. Rana Hejal, medical director of UH Cleveland Medical Center’s Medical Intensive Care Unit and Rolando Mirandilla, a registered nurse at UH Parma Medical Center. Their prize also included complementary airfare and hotel accommodations, courtesy of the Browns and NFL, in recognition of their unwavering commitment to the community and for making personal and professional sacrifices throughout the pandemic, according to information released by the Cleveland Browns. All healthcare workers attending Super Bowl LV were vaccinated prior to their trip.
Wilson, the mother of a 3-year-old and 2-year-old, has been a nurse for 14 years. She began her new role as emergency room assistant nurse manager at UH Cleveland Medical Center last April, just as the pandemic planted roots in Ohio. Wilson’s husband is a paramedic for the City of Cleveland.
“This has been the most stressful time of my career,” Wilson said in a telephone interview. “When we heard about COVID-19, it was in China, and we thought the viru would never come here, then we heard of the first confirmed case in Washington state, and then Cleveland’s first case came to my hospital. I can remember sitting in on meetings discussing our surge plan, because you know, the ER, that’s where people come first. We truly are at the front of it.”
A ticket to Tampa Bay
Wilson left for Florida on Saturday, Feb. 6, with her husband, and the couple enjoyed time on the beach before the big game.
“The sunshine felt so good,” Wilson noted.
The next day, holding her winning ticket (and leaving her husband at the hotel to rest and tune in to the game), Wilson departed for the Super Bowl, sitting with her two UH coworkers in the seventh row at the 45 yard line behind the Buccaneers. The trio was surrounded by smiling cardboard cutouts to ensure proper distancing in the large stadium. For the humble Wilson, it was the trip of a lifetime.
“I grew up watching the Browns and different college games everyday of my life. We are diehard football fans in my family,” she said. “I wish everyone could go to a Super Bowl once in their life. It totally lives up to all the hype.”
And in true superhero form, Wilson was home in North Royalton the following day and back to work in the ER hours later (employees are tested prior to the start of their shifts).
“I can truly say that where I work, I have never felt more supported as a nurse,” Wilson said of her UH family. “UH fully supports us in every way possible. If you need a day off, they tell us we can take it. I truly love the people I work with. I can’t do my job without these people.”
Contributing Writer