A hero is defined as someone who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities. In life, someone can look to different types of people as heroes such as family members, friends, soldiers or even athletes. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the heroes have been the doctors, nurses, healthcare personnel and all of the other frontline workers that worked countless hours to treat COVID patients and in some cases, those frontline workers sacrificed their life to help others.
The Islanders, who were certainly heroes to their fans during the run to the Eastern Conference Final last season, took some time to recognize the true heroes of our world today by delivering cookies and gifts on Monday to frontline workers at Northwell Health Long Island Jewish Medical Center.
“These are unprecedented times and this is an opportunity for us to tell the community how grateful we are for these frontline workers at Northwell,” said Islanders Co-Owner Jon Ledecky who was on hand for the event on Monday along with Islanders mascot Sparky. “The notion that they’ve handled 100,000 cases of COVID is staggering and astonishing but it also is very much a feeling of positive opportunity for helping the fellow man.”
Ledecky and Sparky were joined at the event by Long Island Jewish Medical Center Executive Director Michael Goldberg along with nurses Lauren Mendelson, Karla Villacorta, Sandra Pellegrino, Amy Kupczak and Christina Shelley. Goldberg received a personalized Islanders jersey while the nurses were presented with Islanders jerseys that had “HERO” as the name on the back along with the number one. The hospital was at the epicenter of the pandemic during the initial surge back in the spring. The hospital is normally a 600-bed facility but there was at one point over 900 people in the hospital and most of those were COVID patients.
The community took notice all the efforts from the frontline workers back then and they are right back in the spotlight again with cases surging again.
“The support from our community then was so tremendous and impactful that it gave our team members the motivation to keep going at a time when things were really very difficult,” said Goldberg. “It’s such an impactful thing today to see eight months later a strong commitment of our community and leaders like Mr. Ledecky and the Islanders for continually remembering that as we head into this next wave, the importance of the support from our community for our team members.”
Many of the frontline workers aren’t interested in all of the attention as they just want to do the job that they are dedicated to. There have been times during the pandemic where they have had to reluctantly become the story and a perfect example of that was when nurse and director of patient services Sandra Lindsay became the first person in the United States to receive the vaccine a week ago on December 14th.
The Islanders have enjoyed a long-standing partnership with Northwell Health, so it’s no surprise that the organization wanted to recognize some of the heroes that helped save so many lives.
“They’re so modest and they don’t want to be in front of the cameras,” said Ledecky. “They don’t want to be giving interviews. We’re pushing them to do that because we want their stories to be told. They are heroes in our community.”
So many Islanders fans look at names like Mat Barzal, Anders Lee, Semyon Varlamov, Ryan Pulock, Anthony Beauvillier, Jordan Eberle, and Head Coach Barry Trotz as being heroes this past summer into fall. And while it’s normal for fans to look at sports stars and personalities as heroes, these are certainly not normal times. The reality is that the frontline healthcare workers are heroes during all times whether there’s a pandemic or not.
Those workers deserve to be recognized for their hard work and for putting their lives on the line. How about a standing ovation and a YES YES YES from Islanders Country? If there is a point this season when fans are allowed into Nassau Coliseum or even next season when UBS Arena at Belmont Park opens up, those names and so many more need to hear the roar from the crowd.