TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Sonya Bryson-Kerksey has a voice fans know, and the heart they love.
On game day, the crowd goes wild when she walks on the ice, microphone and hand and a smile on her face. Her trademark bright blue lipstick is a fan-favorite, complete with sparkling glitter shining in the arena lights.
The power of Sonya’s voice is not only awe-inspiring, but also deeply patriotic and personal.
When she sings the National Anthem at Amalie Arena, it is the sweetest sound of strength—so powerful, fans get goosebumps and so joyful, they fall in love with her all over again.
Her singing fills the walls of the arena, wowing the crowd every time she performs the National Anthem, always flawlessly, always effortlessly. She nails it. Every time, every game.
Fans feel their hearts swell with pride, inspired by her patriotism, her service to country and her dedication to community. This is the power of Sonya, the magic she brings. This is why Lighting fans feel such a connection with her.
When fans learned she was hospitalized, they were heartbroken. Their family member was suffering, and they knew they needed to rally around her, sending positivity and healing thoughts through prayer.
According to the singer’s husband, this unexpected infection left them shocked since Sonya was vaccinated months ago, adamantly supporting the effort to get shots in the arms of Floridians.
She urged people to get the vaccine, wanting the public to be proactive during the pandemic by protecting themselves as she did.
Then, without warning, she tested positive for the virus. The diagnosis devastated the couple, knowing COVID was high risk and dangerous for Sonya who has an underlying condition, Multiple sclerosis. On her Instagram page, she often document the stages of her journey, including photos of her happy, laughing and smiling during her infusion treatments.
But, she knew COVID would be different. This diagnosis prompted the most serious of circumstances, impacting her health with complications, requiring hospitalization, according to her husband who hasn’t left her side.
Countless prayers have been pouring in from all over Tampa Bay, including a heartfelt message of support and love from her close friend, Titus O’Neil. He spoke with 8 on your Side from his hotel room in Orlando Wednesday night, where he was speaking at a teacher’s convention.
In a candid, emotional conversation, he was deeply troubled by the diagnosis, knowing Sonya is hurting as she battles for her life. He told 8 on your Side, he wanted to send a message to his “partner in crime,” describing Sonya as family, someone he respects, loves and admires.
“I am putting my arms out wide, my big arms, hugging Sonya, wrapping my arms around her,” he said with a smile. “I want her to know, I love her, I support her and I’m praying for her. I can’t wait to hug her when she gets out of the hospital.”
He called on the community to pray for this Tampa Bay treasure, sending her support and encouragement. “Now is the time Champa Bay needs to come together for Sonya, we need to rally around her. She is a champion,” he said.
In a sobering moment, he described the situation as “serious,” talking about how difficult the COVID crisis has been, affecting all of us as it spreads and takes the lives of countless people. “Sonya is fighting this, showing us that she is strong. She is such a special person, and I hope she knows how much everyone is rooting for her. She will get through this.”
In the end, Sonya’s husband wanted to relay a message from his wife, briefly communicating from her hospital bed. She had something to say.
Her message was simple.
“Go get vaccinated,” she said.
She was emphatic in sharing her COVID message, especially her support of getting vaccinated. The shot, she says, is needed. Getting the vaccine, she said, means you won’t infect others, keeping yourself from danger.
She hopes people are listening.