The world of sports is thanking healthcare workers "for reminding us what it means to be great"

By Dave Quinn
May 06, 2020 12:04 PM
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The world's top athletes have come together to pay tribute to the courageous healthcare heroes on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic.

Stars across 14 professional and electronic sports leagues — including the MLB, NBA, NFL, NHL, NASCAR, NWSL, WWE, WNBA, and WTA — have united for The Real Heroes Project, a collaborative initiative to turn the spotlight on those helping in the fight against COVID-19.

A touching new video for the campaign, posted on Wednesday, shows athletes like John Cena, Wayne Gretzky, Coco Gauff, Drew Brees and Naomi Osaka covering their name on their jerseys and uniforms and dedicating it instead to the name of an individual healthcare worker helping their community during this global crisis.

"Today I will use my voice to showcase a real hero," says Cena in the clip, kicking off a parade of stars thanking and applauding medical staffers "for reminding us what it means to be great."

John Cena, Drew Brees, and Coco Gauff
| Credit: Dia Dipasupil/Getty; Kevin Mazur/WireImage; Sam Tabone/Getty

Since the COVID-19 outbreak, most professional sports have come to a halt, with stay-at-home orders across the country preventing crowds from gathering and postponing games.

And while many in the sports world have supported their local and national communities in their own respective efforts — like the WTA 4 Love humanitarian campaign — this is the first undertaking bringing together athletes from the entire sports community.

Featured leagues and athletes include:

  • Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP): Professional doubles tennis players Bob and Mike Bryan
  • Activision Blizzard Esports:  Seth "Scump" Abner, Li "Liooon" Xiaomeng, and Matthew "Super" DeLisi
  • Electronic Arts (EA): Mohammed "MoAuba" Harkous, Mosaad "Msdossary" Aldossary, Drini "Drini" Gjoka, Seamus "Young Kiv" Kivlen, Eric "Snip3down" Wrona, and Bowen "Monsoon" Fuller
  • Major League Baseball (MLB): Aaron Judge and Christian Yelich
  • Major League Soccer (MLS): Javier "Chicharito" Hernández, Jozy Altidore, and Nani
  • NASCAR: Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick
  • National Basketball Association (NBA): Donovan Mitchell
  • National Football League (NFL): Drew Brees, DeAndre Hopkins, and George Kittle
  • National Hockey League (NHL): Wayne Gretzky, Jonathan Toews, and Hayley Wickenheiser
  • National Women's Soccer League (NWSL): Carli Lloyd and Alex Morgan
  • United States Golf Association (USGA): Jordan Spieth and Lydia Ko
  • Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA): Skylar Diggins-Smith and Breanna Stewart
  • Women's Tennis Association (WTA): Coco Gauff, Naomi Osaka, Bianca Andreescu, Ashleigh Barty, and Victoria Azarenka
  • World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE): John Cena, Triple H, and Charlotte Flair

In addition to coming together for the video, each participating athlete will also share a personal thank you message to their healthcare hero on social media utilizing the hashtag, #TheRealHeroes.

Fans around the world are invited to do the same.

As of Wednesday morning, more than 1.2 million people in the United States have been infected with the coronavirus, according to a New York Times database. At least 71,100 have died.

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments. PEOPLE has partnered with GoFundMe to raise money for the COVID-19 Relief Fund, a GoFundMe.org fundraiser to support everything from frontline responders to families in need, as well as organizations helping communities. For more information or to donate, click here.