I am writing on behalf of the Matt Hughes family. Matt was in a terrible accident on June 16, 2017. He was airlifted to St. John’s and admitted to the ICU. As with any tragedy, emotions and confusion ran high. Ashley Hull and Megan Simpson were blessings in the middle of a nightmare. While everyone at St. John’s was wonderful, these two nurses simply went above and beyond and brought as much peace and calm to our lives that was humanly possible. They were extremely patient and knowledgeable with our countless questions; they would bring coffee when our eyes couldn’t stay open a minute longer. And the professionalism they displayed instilled confidence in us in that we knew Matt was in great hands. They are masters of their craft and the most caring nurses I have ever encountered. Matt has a long road ahead of him, and I can say with certainty that the family wishes Ashley and Megan could stick with us every step of the way. St. John’s should be proud of employing people of their caliber.The Hughes family wanted to show their appreciation to the medical team for helping Matt in the biggest fight of his life. Hughes thanked and hugged Hull and Simpson before handing them their awards. “My family and friends have told me that the entire team at St. John’s was really good to me and all of them,” said Hughes. “It means the world to me. Thank you all so very much.” Hull has been a nurse for about eight years and grew up in central Illinois watching Hughes fight in the UFC. “Words couldn’t begin to describe the emotions I felt as I accepted the DAISY award from the Hughes family and Tony Zucca,” said Hull. “Being able to be a small part of Matt’s miraculous recovery is nothing short of amazing. Matt, Audra, Tony and the rest of his family and friends are all an inspiration to me, and the absolute perfect example of why I became a nurse. Thank you doesn’t seem to be enough. I am honored and humbled to have been his nurse.” Simpson has been a nurse for a little more than two years, commenting at the ceremony that Hull is someone she greatly looks up to as a nurse. She was flattered to receive this award alongside Hull. “Being a nurse means stepping into the lives of strangers and allowing them to lean on you in their darkest hours,” said Simpson. “It is a great honor that Matt’s family and friends trusted me to care for him. Accepting the DAISY Award from the Hughes family and Tony Zucca is something I truly will never forget. Seeing Matt healthy and thriving is exactly the reason why I love being a critical care nurse.” “We are very proud to have Ashley and Megan as nurses here at St. John’s,” said HSHS St. John’s Hospital President and CEO Charles L. Lucore, MD, MBA. “They exemplify our mission of embodying Christ’s healing love through our high quality Franciscan healthcare ministry and demonstrate our core values – respect, care, competence and joy.” Everyone who attended the ceremony were very impressed to see the remarkable recovery Hughes has made over the past several months. Hughes spent several days at St. John’s before transferring to a facility outside of Springfield. Lucore surprised the Hughes family with a gift and an award at the private ceremony. “We wanted Matt and Audra to have the crucifix that hangs in each of our patient rooms,” said Lucore. “We know you often spent time praying in Matt’s room at St. John’s with family, friends, your pastor and our colleagues. We hope it reminds you of all of the prayers that have been said and will continue to be said for Matt on his road to recovery.” Hughes also received the Superhero Award at the ceremony for turning a setback into a comeback. His strength and healing power have proven to be quite extraordinary.
Jake Leonard, a broadcast media and journalism veteran, is the editor-in-chief of Heartland Newsfeed. Leonard is also GM and program director of Heartland Newsfeed Radio Network, wrestling editor and contributing writer for Ambush Sports, a contributing writer for My Sports Vote and Midwest Sports Network, and a former contributor to Bleacher Report and Overtime Heroics. He resides at home in Nokomis, Ill. with his dog Buster.