Brian Paonessa is a Las Vegas-based nurse who has been on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. For the last six-and-a-half years, Paonessa has poured his heart into helping others when they’re at their most vulnerable. It’s a passion he credits to his parents, who are shining examples of love, kindness, compassion, and devotion. “I owe them a lot for what they’ve instilled in me,” Paonessa says. They’ve made me the man I am today. They gave me enough courage and discipline to go out and do something like what I’m doing now.”

Sports also shaped Paonessa’s life. He played baseball growing up and was a football player during college. After that, he spent 11 years as a personal trainer. “I spent a lot of time in the weight room. I fit that jock stereotype, but when people meet me, they know that I’m genuine and care. I love giving back to my patients,” he continued.

Paonessa’s patients aren’t the only ones he’s giving back to these days. In 2018, he came up with the idea for Fit, Functional Nurses: an incentive and benefit program that enriches a nurse’s lifestyle outside of work. It began to take shape in January of 2021 when Paonessa said he realized that balance is essential. Nurses, who tend to give everything to their career, usually neglect their own needs to help others. FFN was developed to change that and build a community of like-minded caretakers across the country.

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