UT Southwestern medical assistant Irma Garcia rolled into work Tuesday morning like she’s done every day since the pandemic first rocked the globe. Her grueling shift starts early, but the overwhelming anxiety that once gripped her patients has been replaced with newfound hope for a brighter tomorrow.

For almost four months now, the vaccine clinic has been in full swing and the number of patients is only about to increase after the state announced today that all Texas adults will be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine starting on Monday.

Seniors 80 and older will be able to get it without or without an appointment.

“It’s been very humbling to witness the good and the bad of the pandemic,” Garcia said. “Patients rely on us as their go-to for relief.”

Garcia said that UT Southwestern Medical Center at RedBird is now vaccinating upwards to 2100 people per day and the grind never stops for frontline medical workers.

For this exact reason, Mavs sensation Luka Dončić decided to step up to the plate Tuesday and surprised 100 healthcare workers at the vaccination clinic with a fresh new pair of Air Jordan 1 shoes.

The goal was to provide them with new shoes to wear, but even more — to boost morale and hope after the medical workers have spent over a year battling this pandemic along the frontlines.

“I wish (that) I could be there in person,” Dončić shared in a pre-recorded video. “But I just want to say  that I have one pair of Jordans for each one of you. I’m really excited to do that. Thank you for everything that you did during this pandemic and go Mavs!”

Dončić and the Mavs are currently on the road and set to play the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday night, so the third-year guard from Slovenia sent the Mavs community relations team and Champ to deliver the gifts.

The lucky 100 employees were selected in a raffle, but they had no idea what they won or who it was coming from.

Now they do.

“We weren’t anticipating this today,” a jubilant Garcia exclaimed. “We were invited here and received our shoes (from Luka Dončić), which we greatly appreciate. It’s nice to be recognized.”

Alisha Orton is the director of ambulatory operations at UTSWA. She said the donation today from Dončić injected the staff with a tremendous amount of joy and excitement.

“It was a huge boost for them today,” Orton said. “They’ve been doing vaccinations for almost four months. Every day this is their life, seven days a week. So just to have the acknowledgment from the community and the Mavericks and Dončić is a huge acknowledgment for them. They’re so grateful.”

Orton explained how employees at the RedBird vaccination clinic are probably seeing upwards to 10-12 patients an hour.

“It’s right after another, after another,” she shared. “They do a lot of vaccinations, but also education to the community and (address) questions people might have about the vaccinations and COVID in general.”

Gifting shoes to healthcare workers has become a new tradition for the Dallas Mavericks family of late.

In late January, Dallas Mavs swingman Josh Richardson gifted healthcare workers with new Reeboks and now Dončić has extended the same gesture with the Jordans.

The 22-year-old inked a deal with Jordan Brand back in December 2019 and has burst on the scene as one of the brands signature athletes.  Doncic has worn several pairs of player exclusives this year, but fans are anticipating the day when he receives his own signature shoe with the brand.

Until then, Dončić is thrilled to share his love for Jordans with North Texas healthcare workers who need a nice pair of comfortable — and colorful — sneaks to help people get vaccinated.

Like the famous quote says “you have to get through the rain if you’re ever going to see a rainbow.”

Now the vaccination workers have rainbows on their feet to push them forward as they work with the community each day to get people vaccinated.

“We are so thankful for our partnership with the Mavs,” Orton said. “Hopefully with the vaccinations going so well, we can get back to going to the games live and cheering the (Mavs) on to victory.”

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