Staffords provide holiday help for families impacted by COVID across Michigan

Annual tradition for the Stafford family focuses on those affected by the pandemic this year

Every year during the holiday season, Detroit Lions quarterback Matt Stafford and his wife Kelly help several families in need of a pick-me-up.

DETROIT – Every year during the holiday season, Detroit Lions quarterback Matt Stafford and his wife Kelly help several families in need of a pick-me-up.

The need is even greater this year due to the COVID pandemic, so the Staffords made it a point to choose families impacted by coronavirus.

For one family in Marion, about an hour north of Mount Pleasant, the surprise from the Staffords was exactly what they needed.

It was a moment the Wilson family will never forget -- the day Matt and Kelly Stafford connected with them on Zoom.

To say that the Wilson family was impacted by COVID-19 is an understatement. Their son, 21-year-old Ethan Wilson has physical and mental handicaps. He came down with COVID in October.

The family traveled to C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor, but Courtney Wilson and her husband, Chad, also had coronavirus, so they weren’t allowed inside.

Ethan would be OK, but while nearby in a hotel, Chad’s condition got worse and within days he was admitted to a hospital, put on a ventilator and then went into cardiac arrest. The 47-year-old football coach and retired corrections officer died from complications from COVID.

He leaves behind Courtney, and their three children, Ethan, Ella and Eli.

“It’s been really difficult,” Courtney said. “They’re not going to have dad around anymore.”

When the Staffords heard their story, the Wilsons made it onto the list of families to help.

The Wilsons were not only surprised with a Zoom call, but the family received a care box, a handwritten note, a large check to help with bills and an invitation to a post-pandemic Detroit Lions game.

“I’ve never been to a game,” said 10-year-old Eli. “And the tickets were on my list.”

“It really helps get us through what’s going on what now,” said 13-year-old Ella. “Just hearing that from the Staffords made it special for us.”

“You could truly feel the empathy in their voices,” Courtney said. “We got a good feel for who they are as human beings in a short amount of time.”

And even though Chad isn’t home for Christmas, the family made a new holiday memory.

“Will we have this memory to cherish for years to come,” Courtney said. “Something that’s going to follow us forever and ever.”

The Staffords chose ten families impacted by COVID, including frontline workers, people who lost loved ones, struggling businesses and more.

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About the Authors:

Nick joined the Local 4 team in February of 2015. Prior to that he spent 6 years in Sacramento covering a long list of big stories including wildfires and earthquakes. Raised in Sterling Heights, he is no stranger to the deep history and pride Detroit has to offer.

Dane is a producer and media enthusiast. He previously worked freelance video production and writing jobs in Michigan, Georgia and Massachusetts. Dane graduated from the Specs Howard School of Media Arts.