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A Special Gift for a Young Astronaut in Training

Explorer C

As Southwest Employees, we have an opportunity to demonstrate to others how we give from the heart each and every day.  When Flight Attendant Tammy-Anne learned about three-year old Ezra from her doctor (also Ezra’s grandfather) and his love for aviation and NASA, her contagious Servant’s Heart went to work.

Like many boys, Ezra idolizes NASA astronauts and dreams of being one himself; however Ezra also is suffering from a rare primary immune disease called Hyper IgM Syndrome. Tammy-Anne held this little boy’s sad situation in her heart, until one August day when she met Customer Carol Fogarty while working a flight.

Friendly as always, Tammy-Anne struck up a conversation with Carol and eventually learned that the Customer’s daughter, Dr. Jennifer Fogarty worked for NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston in the Space and Clinical Operations Division.  Tammy-Anne decided to take a chance and share Ezra’s story and ask for a special gift for the young boy.  Carol enthusiastically agreed to take Ezra’s contact information and ask her daughter to send him authentic NASA memorabilia.

In November, Carol’s daughter, Dr.  Fogarty, called Customer Relations because she had the autographed NASA items, but had lost Ezra’s address.  Dr. Fogarty asked if we could track down the Flight Attendant from her mom’s flight.  Thanks to our Co-Hearts in Inflight Payroll, the mystery Flight Attendant, Tammy-Anne, was found! 

Upon hearing from Dr. Fogarty, Tammy-Anne provided his address and was happy to hear of NASA’s generosity.  That next week, Ezra received two boxes of NASA goodies in the mail—a dream come true.

nasa ezra

Ezra’s mom shared this picture of him enjoying his “real” space things.  He truly loved his gifts from NASA, especially the astronaut teddy bear he named “Jupiter” after his favorite planet.  The young astronaut-in-training sleeps with Jupiter each night and takes his NASA backpack filled with his space shuttles to the hospital each  time he goes  

Not only did Dr. Fogarty provide Ezra with some beloved space items, her actions also reminded the Immunology group at NASA of “the real reason we do this,” which is to help “all of us here on Earth.”

Of course, Tammy-Anne is very humble about the role she played in this story and did not want her involvement to be highlighted.  Instead, she is eager to help Ezra and others by passing on his mother’s hope that this story could spotlight the need for more bone marrow donors.

In my Customer Relations training class, our credo was “Changin’ Lives, One Call at a Time.”  Despite her desire to stay out of the spotlight, Tammy-Anne lives out this call to action, one Passenger at a time, and it has inspired me.  Thanks to Tammy-Anne’s willingness to follow her Servant’s Heart and engage others in her quest, Ezra was given the gifts of a lifetime while the rest of us were reminded of our unique purpose, and ultimately got to change a life.

For more information on bone marrow donations, please visit the Gift of Life Bone Marrow Foundation. Progress on Ezra’s recovery is available as well.

At Southwest Airlines, we are fortunate to work in an environment that fosters the Servant’s Heart.  Employees like Tammy-Anne are truly a remarkable piece of the puzzle that is our organization and she deserves many thanks!