Matt Hughes experienced his share of epic battles over the years, but none more harrowing than his fight to recover after getting struck by a train while crossing the tracks in his truck this past June.
In the days following the accident, things looked bleak for the 43-year-old UFC Hall of Famer from Hillsboro, Il. But after a few months at HSHS St. John’s Hospital, Hughes has been able to make a miraculous recovery from the devastating collision.
Earlier this week, the grateful two-time UFC welterweight champ returned to the hospital to honor two of the ICU nurses who cared for him after the accident. Hughes was accompanied by his wife, Audra, their daughters, Hanna and Katelyn, and a friend, Tony Zucca.
“My family and friends have told me that the entire team at St. John’s was really good to me and all of them,” Hughes said. “It means the world to me. Thank you all so very much.”
And while Hughes was clearly grateful for the exceptional care he received while at the hospital, it was Zucca who set the wheels in motion to honor nurses Ashley Hull and Megan Simpson for their dedication to Hughes' recovery. Here's the letter he wrote to nominate the two for the DAISY award, which is given each month to a nurse at St. John’s Hospital for their outstanding achievements:
“I am writing on behalf of the Matt Hughes family,” Zucca wrote in his nomination. “Matt was in a terrible accident on June 16, 2017. He was airlifted to St. John's and admitted to the ICU. As with any tragedy, emotions and confusion ran high. Ashley Hull and Megan Simpson were blessings in the middle of a nightmare. While everyone at St. John's was wonderful, these two nurses simply went above and beyond and brought as much peace and calm to our lives that was humanly possible. They were extremely patient and knowledgeable with our countless questions; they would bring coffee when our eyes couldn't stay open a minute longer. And the professionalism they displayed instilled confidence in us in that we knew Matt was in great hands. They are masters of their craft and the most caring nurses I have ever encountered. Matt has a long road ahead of him, and I can say with certainty that the family wishes Ashley and Megan could stick with us every step of the way. St. John's should be proud of employing people of their caliber.”
Zucca also shared some video of the amazing progress Hughes has made so far, just about two months after the accident:
A post shared by Tony Zucca (@tonyzucca) on Aug 21, 2017 at 3:30pm PDT
And another of him hitting the town with his buddy:
A post shared by Tony Zucca (@tonyzucca) on Aug 13, 2017 at 6:26pm PDT