Jordan Dangerfield knows what it's like to grow up the child of a first responder, a frontline worker. His father, the late David Dangerfield, was an FDNY firefighter and his mother, Erica Dangerfield, is a retired NYPD detective, both of them stationed in Bronx, New York.
Dangerfield remembers the long hours they worked, the late night shifts they put in and the sacrifices they made.
That is why when given the opportunity to talk to kids of frontline workers working to fight the COVID-19 pandemic at UPMC, he jumped at the opportunity. The kid's parents have been working in the COVID Command Center, to manning the inbound and outbound COVID exposures seven days a week, to so much more.
"It means a lot to me to do this, especially having two parents who worked the front lines," said Dangerfield. "They went through some crazy things. Nothing like COVID.
"I know what they are going through with their parents. When I was younger, my parents were working overtime, night shifts, 24-hour shifts. I can imagine they might not be seeing their mom or dad for a few days, especially with COVID they don't always want to get around the kids.
"I was kind of blind to it growing up. I was lucky every night they came home to us. I took it for granted. Now that I am older, thinking about it, they are real life heroes and it means a lot to see what they did to provide for my family."
Dangerfield's wife, Tiffany, is a nursing student and her career path motivates him to reach out and help others as well.
"She is going to be putting her life on the line in the future," said Dangerfield. "Seeing what is going on right now, and she wants to still pursue it, that means a lot. She is about to start her fourth semester at UPMC, and she will be on the front lines soon."
Dangerfield spent Thursday evening on a zoom call with the kids, giving each of them an opportunity to ask questions. The questions ranged from if he has ever been injured, to why he plays football, if he plays video games, and what is the best part of being on a team.
"I just wanted to talk to them and let them be kids," said Dangerfield, who is sending a signed football to the kids. "I wanted to put some smiles on their faces, give them some motivation, let them know how much their parents are appreciated for what they are doing. I just wanted to spend some time with them.
"I wanted to tell them my journey, whatever they want to do in life, if they want to be like their parents, or their favorite athlete, go out and do it. Use all of the doubt they get in life and use it as motivation to pursue their dream no matter what it is. Set something you want to be great at and put your all into it."
The best question, though, was what advice he would share for tough situations.
"I would say put your faith first," said Dangerfield. "I live by everything happens for a reason. Just keep pushing forward and find that reason."
And he later added a little bit of advice his father shared with him.
"Believe to achieve," Dangerfield told the kids. "Write that down in your notebook."