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The coronavirus pandemic has been devastating lives across the country since the end of January, and New York was one of the first and hardest-hit cities. Last week, we featured another Local Rock Star who went to New York City to help an already overwhelmed city combat COVID-19.

I didn't realize, as I was getting to know her by browsing through her social media updates, that I would see Darby Williams again while learning about another Lubbock nurse who volunteered to offer her skills to help patients in New York.

Meet Lesley Prieto

Lesley is in New York working in ICU at a hospital alongside others from all across the country. We received a couple of messages about Lesley, including this one from her younger sister, Toni.

"Lesley is my older sister who has gone to help with all the other amazing people to help with not only just the COVID-19 patients but also others that are still not allowed to see their families during this pandemic," Toni wrote. "She is BOLD and BRAVE with a HUGE heart!! We love and miss you Lesley!!"

There are days when we all find ourselves feeling overwhelmed by the changes and impact on our lives brought about by COVID-19, but living in Lubbock has provided a sense of insulation from many of the challenges other parts of the country are facing during this time.

While our community is reaching for solutions to deal with the coronavirus' impact locally, some of our very own neighbors, working in the middle of one of the designated hot-zones, are the last faces seen by strangers who have passed away without the comfort of having family and friends nearby.

Medical professionals are a rare breed. The dedication required to be an ICU nurse is nothing short of saintly. It takes a special kind of soul to be at the side of others as they pass away and still maintain enough strength and composure to complete a 12-hour shift caring for the most ill. I don't think that I could do it, and that's why it's important to me that these angels among us are recognized.

Lesley seems to have a spirit that I can admire. Strong enough to witness some of the greatest pain and helplessness humans have ever experienced, and still hopeful enough to enjoy time with colleagues during her last days in New York City.

Lesley, We Salute You! YOU are a Rock Star!

Lesley, I hope that your journey home to Lubbock is safe and that New York knows it has a precious gem from Texas sparkling so bright that we can see it from several states away. It's my hope that you return to the friendly faces and loving arms of your community, and that anyone who has the pleasure to meet you reminds you that you are a diamond in the rough.

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