Retired two-time UFC welterweight champion Matt Hughes, 43, had two very important women in his corner after his truck was struck by a train in June in Montgomery Country, Ill.

Yes, his wife and their daughters were bedside following the accident, but it was HSHS St. John’s Hospital ICU nurses Ashley Hull and Megan Simpson who also helped him recover.

That’s why Hughes’ friend, Tony Zucca, nominated Hull and Simpson for the DAISY nurse award, which is given to a deserving nurse from St. John’s every month to recognize his or her efforts in providing the best care and compassion possible.

Although Hughes didn’t have any broken bones or internal injuries, he remained unconscious and unresponsive. But, it was Hull, Simpson and a number of their colleagues who believed Hughes would make a full recovery.

In a ceremony honoring the nurses on Tuesday, Hughes and his family returned to the hospital to show their appreciation with a few touching words.

“Ashley Hull and Megan Simpson were blessings in the middle of a nightmare,” Zucca shared. “While everyone at St. John’s were wonderful, these two nurses simply went above and beyond, and brought as much peace and calm to our lives as humanly possible. They were masters of their craft and the most caring nurses I’ve ever encountered. St. John’s should be proud of employing people of their caliber. We’ve been to several facilities since this began…and I say again, they are the two best nurses we’ve ever encountered to this point.”

Then Hull stepped up to the podium to share her thoughts.

“Matt’s story is the epitome of why I became a nurse,” she said. “I just want him to know how incredibly proud I am of him. He beat the odds and won the biggest fight of his life. He will forever be an inspiration for the care I provide my patients.”

Here’s a short video of the ceremony.



This is certainly more proof that it’s not the actions of those on the playing field (or in the ring) that define true heroes. Heroes are everywhere if you take the time to look.