Gayle Hays (center) poses for a photo with Mary Snyder, CEO of UnitedHealthcare, New England, and Doug Flutie, former quarterback for the Boston College Eagles and the New England Patriots, during an event at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts, on June 30. United HealthCare honored Hays as a New England Champion for her efforts to connect older adults with the COVID-19 vaccine.

Bailey Island resident Gayle Hays was one of six senior citizens honored for “extraordinary contributions to the health and well-being of their communities” during a ceremony at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts, on June 30.

Former Boston College and New England Patriots quarterback Doug Flutie presented an Olympics-style gold medal to Hays on behalf of UnitedHealthcare. The organization dubbed the recipients “New England Champions.”

UnitedHealthcare also gave Hays a gift package and donated $5,000 to a nonprofit of her choice. Hays selected Brunswick’s Oasis Free Clinics, which provides free medical and dental care to adults without health insurance.

UnitedHealthcare picked Hays for her work to help older adults access the COVID-19 vaccines.

When the vaccines arrived in Maine, Hays volunteered to give shots at a location sponsored by Mid Coast Hospital, where she had worked for more than 20 years. She became concerned that older adults with limited computer access or skills would struggle to register for the vaccine.

With flyers and phone calls, as well as email and social media, Hays “immediately launched an effort to provide information to community members on how to sign up for the vaccine,” according to a bio from United Healthcare. The drive was successful, setting up “numerous” residents with their first shots.

“Gayle has a deep commitment to assisting people in her community that stems from a strong dedication to volunteering, her faith, and her extensive experience in leadership roles throughout her nursing career,” the bio says.