Project Good: Healthcare Heroes

In some of the most uncertain times in our lives, it’s been the nurses, doctors, EMTs, paramedics, therapists, and others who have been able to provide calm in a storm. There is no one who deserves a break around a roaring fire more.

Our healthcare heroes have been working literally around the clock putting their lives on the line for us during these uncertain times. While these heroes deserve so much more, we invited you to nominate the healthcare hero in your life who has been there for you or another when it was needed most. Out of the hundreds of nominations received, we had the opportunity to choose a select group to receive a Bonfire with Stand. Read on to learn more about these special heroes, and how they go above and beyond every day to care for others. This is what Project Good is all about.


Kenta N., from his wife, Daisy

Kenta is an interventional cardiologist at the University of Washington. His patients have some of the severest cardiac complications in Washington as well as four other neighboring states.

“Heart attacks haven’t stopped because of COVID, but there are more risks involved for everyone. Kenta is the youngest faculty member in his practice and volunteered to take shifts from his more senior partners who are at higher risk of complications. The photo above is him as he prepared to ‘doff’ his PPE [personal protective equipment] after hours of saving a man’s life in the middle of the night. A nurse took the photo to explain to our 4 year-old son why his Papa missed reading to him.”

Bruce with one of his patients

Bruce L., from his sister, Deb

Bruce has been a faculty member and surgeon at University of Vermont’s Larner College of Medicine since 1988. He is currently the chief of cardiac and thoracic surgery, as well as Professor of Surgery. As Bruce plans to retire later this year, his sister Deb wanted to say that Bruce is “an outstanding brother and remarkable provider all over the world.” Bruce actively serves via Doctors Without Borders and Team Heart, another humanitarian healthcare service dedicated to providing healthcare education and care in developing countries.

“Bruce continues to go above and beyond for his patients all over the world. Several young people from Rwanda, whose lives he saved, continue to have a relationship with my brother. Through Team Heart, Bruce has  . . . performed nearly 100 heart surgeries. Their work is truly life-saving.”


Samantha E., from her husband, Justin

Samantha is the hardest working person Justin has ever met. Not only did she graduate valedictorian in her high school class while also working a full-time job, Samantha went on to Yale to become an acute care pediatric nurse practitioner. 

“[Samantha] injects as much strength and passion into her career working with critically ill children as she did into getting herself out of poverty and into a better life for herself. On March 3, 2020, our neighborhood in East Nashville was devastated by a tornado. Many houses were ripped apart to the foundation. Life became a whirlwind. If not for the perseverance and strength from my incredible wife, our lives would have been completely derailed. Many of her patient’s lives would not be the same with her. She’s quite literally a true hero.”


Kristin C., from her friend, Kasey

Kristin is a speech language pathologist and mother of two. While she has been able to convert her practice to telehealth, Kristin has provided others in her field with tips and tricks on how to keep younger kids focused and interested throughout their therapy sessions. At the same time, Kristin has been diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer and has been through many treatments already this year.

“Due to COVID, all family support has been stopped at this time. Kristin and her husband have continued to work-full-time from home with a 2 and 4 year-old while she continues her treatments. Overcoming all these obstacles and still getting therapy to her patients is why I believe she should win an awesome Solo Stove for her new backyard.”


JR Ards

JR works in mental health at Children’s Hospital Colorado where COVID-19 has affected all the staff’s daily lives and routine. Many of his patients have been struggling with not being able to see their friends and the lack of structure once their schools went remote. On top of that, some of their patients have been diagnosed with COVID-19, making their struggle to uphold their mental health even more of a challenge.

“I think everyone in healthcare, or just in general, has been going above and beyond given that life as we knew it before has changed abruptly! It’s reassuring to see the majority of people embracing solidarity and helping each other out while we all try to figure out life as we know it now.”

Mario D., from his family member, Ellen

Mario is an RN working the general surgery floor of his hospital. He has worked in the nursing field since 2010 and has recently been working on a Wound Treatment Certificate.

“When the pandemic and shelter-in-place started, Mario continued working without hesitation. He has willingly worked in the float pool to cover all departments with their needs such as cleaning rooms, taking temperatures, auditing procedures, and caring for Covid positive patients. Mario’s father passed away on April 5th from liver cancer and Mario only requested three days off from work because he didn’t want to add stress to others during this difficult time although he was battling his own grief and stress.”


Gabrielle M., her family member, James

Gabrielle is a mother to three children, ages three through nine, some of which she had while she was in medical school. Before medical school, Gabrielle was one of the first women to fly the F/A-18 Hornet in combat as a U.S. Marine Captain during her deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq. She is now the Resident Physician at the Duke University Medical Center.

“In March, 2020 she was diagnosed with COVID-19. She recovered, and by April was back at work as a third year Anesthesia Resident. In addition to her regular duties in the operating room, she took extra shifts in the Emergency department, which was important due to the pandemic. Gabby goes above and beyond to help her patients, and gives extra time to help out the hospital and still finds time for her children at home. She is an amazing woman, and a great role model!”


Angela V., from her friend, Ruth

Angela was once a paralegal for a firm that represented children in need. After being inspired by her sister, Angela decided to become a nurse. Angela attended nursing school while raising four children under age 12 while her husband worked in California. Now, she has been a nurse for almost three years and currently in the COVID-19 unit in a hospital. 

“Angela has been recognized several times by both patients and coworkers for her bedside manner and patient advocacy. She was very concerned for her patient and coworkers’ safety in the COVID unit by seeking resources to provide additional masks for coworkers’ families and scrub caps for nurses to use in the hospital.”


Lee Ackley, from his friends

Lee’s friend, Stephanie, says Lee is a “pillar of his community.” Lee is a Physician’s Assistant, a retired Air Force Major, a Boy Scout Leader, and a pastor of his church. Members of his community say it best:

“My wife got tested for coronavirus, and he called just as soon as he knew the results. He is just that type of person. If you need help with something, he will be on his way to help you.” — Cory

“Throughout the COVID-19 crisis Lee has been actively involved in testing and treating patients. He is thoughtful and caring with everyone who comes to his clinic and he puts in as many hours as necessary to take care of his staff and his patients.” — Stephanie

“Daily, Lee is screening people for COVID-19 by going outside to everyone’s cars. He is doing everything so it limits the amount of positive contacts that can occur. I was actually one of his patients that he had come to my car to swab me and he does an excellent job. He always goes above and beyond what he is asked to do.” — Amber

“[Lee] is a PA for a local rural health clinic. He is a retired military veteran and enjoys giving back to the community in a variety of ways. He volunteers his services to local events such as rodeos and a bike race (Hotter n’ Hell Hundred). He also is a member of the local Boy Scouts of America organization and helps lead the troops. Lastly, he is the associate pastor and a deacon at his church.” — Colby


Robert T., by his friend, Kevin

Robert has been a nurse for seven years. Ater he was laid off from his first job, Robert went back to school in a nursing program. Now, Robert works overtime to help pay his student debt and support his family of five while also working a second job, not to mention receiving all certifications available to him.

“I have known Bebo (my nickname for Robert) for almost fifteen years. We were in the same premarital group and our families have attended church and small groups together since. I have seen him through the highs and lows of life. Through it all, Bebo has grown into a kind and giving man. He and his wife help run a camp for foster kids in the summer,  and Bebo also volunteers as the camp nurse. He volunteers at church, offering medical services when needed or just a pair of hands. He is passionate about nursing, especially enjoying the time that he gets to spend talking with patients. He is a good man and a great nurse.”

Itgel B., by her friend, Sarantuya

Itgel is not only an emergency room nurse but a single mom of three children ages seven to fifteen. Sarantuya says Itgel has been through many hardships but is one of the “best emergency room nurses.”

“She will go above and beyond, no matter what effort it takes. Nothing is too much for her to do for patients. I will never forget what she said to me recently. This is her words “There is no greater job in the world than being a nurse. When you are a nurse, you know that every day you will impact someone’s life, and often your life will be impacted in return. It is who I am. People need us especially during this crisis.” 

Karen and her coworker

Karen K., by her husband, Bryan

Karen has been a nurse for over four years caring for bone marrow transplant patients at a large academic institution in the Midwest. In light of the pandemic, she has selflessly volunteered to work in her institution’s COVID-19 Critical Care Unit.

“My wife, Karen, is an impressive human being. I am proud to call her my wife and thankful for people like her who are putting themselves at risk in order to care for our community and our neighbors. Our family, like many other families, are trying to navigate the new financial challenges associated with the epidemic, particularly the loss of my job. With my wife’s new crazy schedule, often picking up one to two additional shifts a week in order to help provide appropriate staffing for the unit, we do not get to spend as much time together as we wish. However, one of our favorite activities is sitting on our backyard porch next to a fire. Last year, my summer project was to install the patio. This year our project is to sit back and enjoy it. Thank you again for looking out for our community during these challenging times and allowing us to enjoy the world around us.”