Cheryl Peabody (center), a former nurse at Houlton Regional Hospital who now resides in Florida, was one of the 7,500 health care workers selected to attend Super Bowl 51. With Peabody are her co-workers Staci Cisek (left) and Marlaine Giacometti.  Credit: Courtesy of Cheryl Peabody

HOULTON, Maine — Sometimes a suspicious looking email turns into something fantastic.

Such was the case for Cheryl Peabody, a former Houlton Regional Hospital obstetrics nurse, who was one of the 7,500 health care workers selected to attend Super Bowl LV in Tampa Bay.

It was just the second NFL game Peabody has attended. The first was a trip to Gillette Stadium to see Tom Brady and the Patriots several years ago.

Peabody, who worked 25 years in Houlton’s obstetrics ward where she managed labor and delivery, moved to Florida in October 2019 and works for HCA Medical Corp. She was not sure if the email claiming she was eligible to sign up for Super Bowl tickets was legitimate. It was not until she checked with some of her coworkers that she started to believe it was authentic.

“I was at work when I got the email and they are always testing us for phishing emails,” she said. “I saw that it was an external email and it said the NFL was giving away 7,500 tickets to health care providers.”

Many of her coworkers deleted the email because they thought it was not legitimate. Peabody said she decided to take a chance and entered the drawing. She was not too optimistic.

“I never win anything,” she said.

Peabody did not promote the fact that she had won a Super Bowl ticket, only telling a handful of people, she said.

“I am not a big Facebook fan, so I kept it very quiet,” she said. “At the last minute, I called my parents and texted my sister telling them to watch for me at the Super Bowl. They couldn’t believe it.”

Thirty-two staff members from Peabody’s facility received tickets to the big game.

Former Houlton nurse Cheryl Peabody (right), who now resides in Florida, was one of 7,500 health care workers selected to attend the Super Bowl. With Peabody is her co-worker Marlaine Giacometti. Credit: Courtesy of Cheryl Peabody

Her friend Marlene, a devoted Tampa Bay Buccaneers fan, was also a lucky recipient and the two enjoyed the pre-game concert featuring Miley Cyrus, with Billy Idol and Joan Jett.

“We had all free food and that concert was just for the health care providers, which was really nice,” she said.

Inside the stadium, Peabody said she had a perfect view of the field, in section 300 near the 50-yard line, even though she was not seated next to any of her coworkers.

“I wasn’t sure I wanted to go once I knew I had to sit alone, but once inside there was so much energy and everyone was so nice, it was amazing,” she said.

Although she did not get to sit with her friend for much of the game, the two were able to meet up later with some help from stadium security.

The celebratory atmosphere made for a late night, and as fate would have it, she was called in to work the day after the Super Bowl, which made for a long day. The memories she made were well worth it.

“I think it was just a great thing that the NFL did,” Peabody said. “They didn’t have to do that. It was a really nice gesture for all the frontline workers that have been in it for all these months.”