March 18, 2019

Cleveland Cavaliers Nurse Night 2019, Nurse Hero Awards

Cleveland Cavaliers Nurse Night 2019, Nurse Hero Awards
Angelina Walker
By: Angelina Walker Director of Nursing Content and Social Media

The Cleveland Cavaliers teamed up with and special guest Nurse Blake on March 2, 2019, to host Nurse Night 2019.  

Our Nurse Heroes attended warm-up practice and had some fun behind the scenes and on the court before the game. Jessica Robinson was awarded courtside seats and exclusive access to the courtside bar and lounge. Great times!

YouTube Video

Nurse Hero Jessica Robinson and finalists: Dawn MacKay, Kristina Smith, Austin Jeffers, Antanette Gott, Elizabeth Treiber, Michele Radovanic, Sara Dorris, John Carlo, and Kelly Hirsh were honored on the court during the pregame ceremony.

Special thanks to Jaanuu Scrubs for dressing the Nurse Heroes in custom scrubs! 

Congrats to Nurse Jessica Robinson!

Described as “a fearless leader across the healthcare spectrum,” Jessica started her career as a state tested nurse aide while attending Sharon Regional School of Nursing. Tragically, she lost both of her parents by age 25 and took on the responsibility of raising her younger twin brothers. With the passing of her mother shortly after she graduated nursing school, Jessica did not pass the NCLEX the first time and she uses her experience of “failing” as a testimony for others. 

She eventually did pass the NCLEX and started her nursing career as a telemetry float nurse. Since then Jessica returned to school and is currently a Mental Health Nurse Practitioner student at Walden University. She continues to work fulltime and her younger brothers are now married with their own families. Jessica has a passion for encouraging and uplifting fellow nurses. 

“She has no tolerance for bullying and I have witnessed her come to the defense of many,” notes her nominator. “I cannot begin to tell you of the countless nurses who still thank Jessica to this day for having their back on the unit. Jessica has been and continues to be a fearless nursing leader.” 

All 10 nurse-hero nominees receive the following awards:

  • Recognition by the team on the court!
  • 2 game tickets!
  • Personalized Jaanuu Scrubs 

  • Jessica Robinson will receive 4-premium courtside seats and exclusive access to the courtside lounge! 

Meet the Cleveland Cavaliers Top 10 Nurse Hero Nominees

Dawn MacKay, BSN, RN, FNE, NREMT-B

Dawn didn’t take the most conventional path to become a nurse, but her struggle to become a nurse is one of the many traits that those around her admire about her. 

In high school, Dawn’s school counselor informed her that she could never be a nurse because of her difficulty with math and suggested she choose a career path that didn’t require college. However, Dawn had different plans. She pushed through to earn her associates degree in nursing, joking that she loved chemistry so much, she was able to take it twice. 

Soon after she got her license, she started a job in the emergency room, quickly moving up to charge nurse and going back to school for her Bachelors. Her nominator explains that Dawn has always been the first to take on nursing, EMT, and paramedic students to educate and allow to job shadow -- including her own daughter. As her daughter got older, she decided she wanted to be an EMT and firefighter for experience before becoming a nurse, and of course, Dawn was right there with her to support her.

And support her daughter she did, but becoming an EMT-B (she works as an EMT on her days off from the ER), a volunteer firefighter right alongside her, and even running the Middleton Township Fire Department. 

“Dawn has made a huge difference in patient’s and her family’s lives,” her nominator notes. She recalls a specific story of a middle-school-aged girl who came into the ER with Dawn as her nurse. Eventually, it came out that the next day was the girl’s birthday party and that she had a middle school volleyball match against her daughter's team. To cheer her up, Dawn went above and beyond to buy the patient happy birthday balloons and surprise her at the game the following day. 

“I could go on and on with stories of Dawn going above and beyond for patients and their comfort,” adds her nominator. “She is truly an amazing nurse and has been awarded by the hospital she works at for nurse of the year in the past, which just speaks volumes towards her character.”

Kristina Smith, BSN, RN

As just one example of how Kristina Smith, a nurse from the bone marrow transplant floor at the University Hospitals Seidman Cancer Center, goes above and beyond, during a weekend that she was scheduled to work during a snowstorm (and living an hour away from the hospital), she made sure to go in extra early before her shift to get there before the snow hit. The snowstorm happened during her shift, so in order to ensure that she would get to work the following day, she rented a hotel room near the hospital. Unlike other staff members who called off their shifts, Smith took the initiative and paid money out of her own pocket to ensure that her patients would be cared for.

The individual who nominated oncology nurse Kristina Smith had a little difficulty narrowing down exactly why she should be recognized as a nurse hero. The reason? There were just too many great things about Kristina. 

Among her many wonderful qualities, Smith remains truly dedicated to her patients, making them feel as comfortable and cared-for as possible. “She is always going above and beyond for her patients and has genuine empathy for each and every person she comes across,” explains her nominator. 

“Nursing isn't a job to her,” says her nominator. “It is just an extension her real self.”

Austin Jeffers, BSN, RN

According to his co-workers, ever since Austin, a Registered Nurse who specialized in Nephrology in the field of Hemodialysis at Fresenius Kidney Care, hit the hospital floor on his own, he has had one mantra: to make everyone feel important. 

“He is a true glue piece to any team he is involved in and is a leader that leads by example,” notes his nominator. 

Despite his young age of 24, Austin has saved countless lives and helped several families heal from lives that were lost. As just one recent example of how Austin’s personality made a clear difference, his nominator described how one new 22-year-old patient to the dialysis unit had his kidneys destroyed by a disease at only the age of 21. Used to being out-aged by at least a decade by both staff and patients alike, Austin connected with the said patient and made him feel as if he was in his 20s each time Austin worked in our unit.

“I had never seen such a light ignite in that patient before Austin joined our team,” remembers his nominator. “The patient went from dreading dialysis treatment to looking forward to talking with Nurse Austin during his four hours of hemodialysis.”

Even more remarkable, that same 22-year-old patient recently found his perfect match and now has a working kidney donated from none other than his girlfriend’s mom. Within six months of meeting nurse Austin, this early 20-year-old not only found more and more reasons to continue life-saving dialysis treatment but now has a new and working kidney -- he has gone from surviving to thriving.  

“Not all heroes wear capes,” says Austin’s nominator. “Nurse Austin’s selfless care and mission to make this young patient feel included in our clinic truly changed a life. Being a hero does not always mean saving lives, but improving them as well. Austin is a Nurse Hero.” 

Antanette Gott, LPN

Antanette Gott not only works 50 hours as an LPN at Grifols plasma center and studies for her NCLEX exam, but she is also a full-time provider and caregiver to her husband, who is disabled and a dialysis patient and amputee. 

“Sometimes I get down on myself about not being able to work and she always tells me that she’s ‘my other leg’ and to stand strong together,” her husband says. 

While juggling everything she has on her plate currently, Gott has had challenges passing her NCLEX, but her husband has faith in her succeeding. He nominated his wife, not just because she is a loving, kind partner to him, but because he believes that she deserves to finally be recognized for all of her hard work. 

“She is a smart, humble woman who will give you the shirt off her back,” he adds. “ If anyone in this world deserves it, she does. She goes above all measures to make sure everyone else is happy and I feel that she sometimes puts her happiness to the side. I feel if I can’t do anything else, at least I can nominate her name for this. SHE IS THE BEST NURSE, WIFE, AND MOTHER BY FAR IN THE WORLD. Sorry, I wrote a book but she’s much more than just a NURSE TO ME, SHE’S MY HERO. Signed, Her Husband.”

Elizabeth Treiber, MSN, CRRN, CNP

“Liz,” as she is known to her friends and family, works as an advanced practice NP and the Polytrauma Network Coordinator, Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation in the Cleveland VA Medical Center.

In her position, Liz treats veterans with mild to severe traumatic brain injuries and is the main contact person for severely injured veterans, coordinating appointments with other services, being an advocate for them and their family, and “on call” to them around the clock as need be. Liz is also the “go-to” person throughout the center’s physical medicine and rehabilitation department (which houses the polytrauma program). “When something needs to be done, regardless of what it is, Liz is the person who can make it happen,” her nominator notes. 

Liz loves educating and advocating for our veterans, whether it’s to other staff members, family, and caregivers, or the “private sector” (hospitals and nurse organizations outside the VA system). Liz not only cares about our patients but co-workers as well. To Liz, everyone is family. When someone is dealing with personal issues, Liz is the first person to ask what she could do to help make things easier for us. Besides the veterans and coworkers, Liz is also an advocate for other nurses at our VA. She works with the professional standards board for nurses, and is one of the leaders of the advanced practice NP group at the VA, and has recently worked towards getting the NPs better-prescribing rights at the Cleveland VA to meet what other NPs at other VA facilities across the country are doing. 

“In my almost 19 years of nursing, there has never been a more caring, dedicated nurse and woman than Liz,” states her nominator. “She truly does not get the recognition she deserves for being the nurse she is.”  

Michele Radovanic, RN

Nominated by someone very close to her, Michele, an at Signature Health in the Wellness program for children and adults is described as “one of the most passionate nurses that one person will ever meet.”

The hardworking nurse became an LPN out of high school and eventually went back to school for her RN with three children to care for. After graduation, she went into the mental health field and drug addiction and in addition to working in the field, she has also worked to raise awareness about the field of mental health. 

Only a year into working, Michele was faced with her own devastating diagnosis of cancer with Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Incredibly, she continued to work throughout her treatment and rarely ever took a day off. Throughout all of the treatments she remained positive and keeping her client's spirits high was always her priority. She even had the courage to go through new job interviews while bald from the treatment. Today, Michele is healthy and still working with mental health. Some of her favorite things at work are the kids after school programs to help keep them active and healthy.

“She loves being a nurse and every day finds ways to make her clients happier then they were before they came in,” says her nominator. 

Dr. Sara Dorris DNP, CMSRN, APRN, FNP-C

A Professor at the University of Mount Union, Dr. Dorris was nominated by nursing student Taylor on behalf of the Union Class of 2018. 

“Dr. Dorris is a great example of what it means to climb the nursing ladder,” explains Taylor. “She makes sure to encourage and motivate us with how she overcame struggles and worked towards her education goal as a first-generation college student.”

Professor Dorris not only teaches full-time, but continues to practice as a nurse practitioner part-time, and cares for her husband and three kids. “Dr. Dorris, I will never forget,” remembers Taylor, “Gave up her free night and missed one of her children's events to come back on campus to meet with a group of us that were not understanding material not only in her course but another course. She spent all evening with us to ensure that we walked out of the room confident and ready to move forward within the courses.” 

In her role as the co-advisor for the student nursing organization and helping cheer the students on, with the help of Professor Beitler, she has helped pave the way for the group to go national. 

“Dr. Dorris is truly inspirational in her passion and drives to make us the best new nurses in the field that we can be,” says Taylor. “She treats us like family and states that she treats us like family to help resemble how she treats every patient she ever comes in contact with. That our passion and art for this career needs to really be just as important as understanding the science behind nursing.”  

While working on her research projects, Dr. Dorris makes sure to focus her research around her student’s learning needs --  she has even used Nurse Blake’s videos in class! (She concluded that in reference to his “different type of professors” video, she was all of them rolled into one and oh, yeah, her humor is part of her charm as well.)  

“I am sure there are a number of amazing nurses out there that deserve this too, but had it not been for Professor Dorris I would not have gotten through the nursing program and be where I am today,” says Taylor in summary. “Her teaching speaks volumes to why the program has had two consecutive years of 100% pass rates on the NCLEX exam. I am one of those statistics and so proud to have been a student of Dr. Dorris.” 

John Carlo, LPN

A Licensed Practical Nurse specializing in mental health and currently employed at Homestead Residential in Geneva, Ohio, a group home for the developmentally disabled, John is described as “always going above and beyond the call of duty.”

Recently married to a woman who survived a very traumatic domestic violence situation, he is now a father to a combined eight children. And while his large family and work commitments leave him with little time for him to do the things he enjoys, such as attending a night out at a Cavs game, he continues to have a heart for helping others. 

Aside from devoting his time to his family, he often times will take his developmentally- disabled patients out to play basketball and work on them with their basketball skills to prepare them for Special Olympics. 

“He is always giving of himself to others and I believe he would be very deserving of the VIP treatment as he is a very avid Cavaliers fan,” notes his nominator. “So much that his entire living room is Cavaliers themed and is known as ‘the Cavs room.’ I can't think of anyone who would enjoy and deserve this more!” 

Kelly Hirsh, BSN, RN, CCTN

Kelly was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma cancer at the age of 20 in her 3rd year of nursing school. Though she did take one semester off to undergo chemotherapy she didn’t let cancer stop her from completing her nursing degree. Kelly successfully completed nursing school while getting radiation treatments. Though she doesn’t disclose her health history to her patients she admits that the experience helped her to be a more compassionate nurse.

Kelly, now a cancer survivor, has now been a nurse in transplant for over ten years and according to her co-worker who nominated her, it’s easy to tell how passionate she is about her work at Cleveland Clinic Main Campus on the Specialty Care Transplant Stepdown unit, which specializes in kidney, pancreas, liver, face and small intestine transplants. 

Her coworker explains that Kelly is transplant certified by the ABN, a huge accomplishment in transplant and that she also loves teaching; she has taught clinical classes for two colleges and always volunteers to help train the new nurses on our floor. She has been a part of many walks and other fundraisers to raise awareness and support for transplant.

Kelly’s nominator notes that even as a brand new nurse shadowing Kelly right out of school, she was inspired by her. “I shadowed her for only an hour and was overwhelmed by how much she knew and the stories she was telling,” she remembers. “I was so motivated by how much she loved her job and how much she loved nursing.” 

In her own way, Kelly not only encourages her coworkers but leads them to be better as well. Her nominator recalls being a new nurse terrified to draw a type-and-screen for the first time and trying to ask Kelly (who was drinking a Starbucks latte at the time, no less) to do it for her. 

“She responded with, ‘Yes, of course, I will but did you try yourself first?’” Back to the room the new nurse went, got it on her first stick, and gained the confidence she needed as a new nurse. “Now five years later, I am one of the best at IVs and labs and I am the ‘go to’ person on the floor when someone can’t get IV access,” she laughs. “Kelly often brings up this story and reminds me of how I wouldn’t be as awesome as I am if it wasn’t for her!” 

From being the first one into the room to handle a code, to showing up with festive headbands to make working holidays a little brighter to baking a full Christmas dinner for the staff, Kelly is the true definition of a team player. 

“I am especially thankful for awesome nurses like Kelly,” she says. “I would want her to take care of my family if they were sick because I know she would be doing everything she could to ensure they receive the best care possible. When any of our nurses need help, she is there for them.”


  • February 9, 2019 - top 10 announced and voting opens
  • February 16, 2019 - voting ends
  • February 18, 2019 - Nurse Hero announced
  • Official rules 

Get the official 'Nurse Night' shirt - starting at $19.99! 

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