HOUSTON - Sometimes just hearing about all of the people who are dying and getting sick from COVID-19 can take an emotional toll. So imagine living it, like our front line workers.
Artist Kristi Nelson chose to use her gift to highlight what she calls our Masked Heroes and even face coverings couldn't conceal their appreciation.
"I look at those men and women as heroes, as superheroes," says Nelson.
You don't have to look up in the sky to spot these superheroes but rather in the nearest patrol car, fire engine, and medical center.
"Our police officers, firefighters, hospital workers. Going into the hospital, they are draped in their own uniform, in protection just like a superhero would be."
The sketches Nelson creates of Houston's own masked heroes seem so lifelike you almost expect them to start moving, rushing down the hospital hall to care for a patient like Nurse Jen Fuller and you can practically imagine the rendering really talking to tell you about their day.
“The hours are tiring physically. So it's getting exhausting. Of course, the mental-emotional toll I can't even tell you,” says ICU Nurse Ivette Palomeque.
"What they see daily and what they are going through, a lot of the public, just really has no idea," says Nelson.
It takes the former high school art teacher about three hours to create each drawing. She was actually playing with sidewalk chalk with her children when she came up with the first one.
"As a way to uplift the nurses and the front liners, I drew a nurse wearing a mask and wrote thankful for these superheroes."
From there, her book, ‘Masked Heroes’ was born.
"It's a really great way to continue honoring these front liners further."
The book is filled with sketches of Houston frontline workers and stories they're sharing of being impacted by COVID-19.
"This one touched closely to my heart because he had a new baby who was five weeks early and sent to the NICU," says Nelson referring to Nurse Stuart Harman.
Shortly after Harman's newborn came home he had to quarantine. To protect his family, they had to leave home.
"We knew it was the best, yet an incredibly hard decision, Harman says in the book.
ICU Nurse Ivette Palomeque's story is also featured in 'Masked Heroes.'
“I went to New York to help out. The experience was surreal. I didn't know what I was getting into. I just wanted to help. To step foot in the epicenter of the pandemic was by far the bravest thing I've ever done in my life” says Palomeque.
"I really hope that beyond just feeling appreciated and recognized that they will feel unified and understand they are not going through this alone," says Nelson who is donating a portion of the proceeds to a charity that helps families of healthcare workers who have died from COVID-19.