TAMPA, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Lightning’s U.S. national anthem singer for home games has been hospitalized after testing positive for COVID-19.
Sonya Bryson-Kirksey has sung the national anthem at Lightning home games for more than eight seasons.
Her husband, Jimmie Kirksey, said she was not feeling well last week. She lost her appetite and felt tired.
She went to the hospital on July 16.
"They're not letting me see her or go in the room with her or anything I just have to wait for her to call me because calling her, she don’t have the breath to talk," said Jimmie Kirksey.
Jimmie said his wife is not on a ventilator, but she occasionally needs oxygen.
"She’s not on like straight oxygen all the time. If she gets to the point where it gets hard to breathe, she’ll put the oxygen on, but she’s not strictly on an oxygen tank," said Jimmie.
Jimmie said doctors believe Sonya contracted the Delta variant. Sony received a COVID-19 vaccine in March, but she has an underlying issue, multiple sclerosis.
According to the Mayo Clinic, MS is considered an autoimmune disease in which the body's immune system attacks its own tissues. In the case of MS, this immune system malfunction destroys the fatty substance that coats and protects nerve fibers in the brain and spinal cord (myelin).
Greg Wolf works with Sonya at Lightning games. He posted on Twitter asking for her fans to pray for her. Dozens of people sent well wishes and positive vibes.
"All the fans messaging sending their love and wishes and everything it’s great. We just want everyone to be safe. That’s the main thing, being safe," said Jimmie.
Sonya and her family encourage everyone to get vaccinated.
"That’s why we’re telling everyone to please go get your shots, go get vaccinated because if Sonya hadn’t been vaccinated when she was...she probably be in worst shape than she is now. She might not even be here," said Jimmie.
Jimmie said he was also vaccinated and did not test positive for the virus despite his wife's diagnosis.
"It's sad because I’m not able to be there and we’ve always been around each other then all of a sudden, we’re not. It's hard, but we’re getting through it and prayers help everything as long as everyone is keeping us in their prayers. We appreciate it."
If you'd like to donate to help support Sonya and her family in this time, click here.