ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — For her work as a registered nurse during the COVID-19 pandemic, Denver Broncos Cheerleader Gabriela Windey has been named a co-winner of the Pop Warner Humanitarian Award. She is the first woman to receive the honor, which usually is given to NFL players.
Joining Windey as a winner of the honor is Chiefs lineman Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, who opted out of the 2020 NFL season to work at a long-term care facility in Canada.
"Windey is the first female and NFL cheerleader in the history of the award, which has traditionally been awarded to NFL players," Pop Warner Little Scholars wrote in a press release. "Both Windey and Duvarney-Tardif's selflessness and commitment to helping others are an embodiment of sacrifice and teamwork, making them model representatives for young student-athletes across the nation."
Windey, who worked in the medical ICU at UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital, was highlighted for her role by The Athletic reporter Nicki Jhabvala in an article during the early months of the pandemic in America.
"We're all leaning on each other, and it really becomes a new normal kind of fast," Windey told Jhabvala. "All of health care is ever-changing because we're always trying to make sure we're doing things the best way, which comes with evidence-based practice and re-evaluating the way we're doing things. So we are used to change. But it is hard and, of course, this is different because of the seriousness of it and how many people it's affecting."
During those months, Windey received meaningful gestures — video messages of the 8 p.m. howl for front-line workers, cards from friends, an offer to pay for her coffee. This honor will surely be a welcome addition to that collection, too.
Broncos safety Justin Simmons also was honored by Pop Warner as the recipient of the 2021 Pop Warner Little Scholars Inspiration to Youth Award.