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An Experience to Remember

Brooks
Employee
Employee

This year was my first Kidd's Kids experience, an annual event that transports children with special medical needs and their families from Dallas to Disney World.  They don't pay a dime, but as I would come to find out, the experience is priceless.

I arrived to work early Thursday to help with setup.  Making my way through the chain-linked security gate and across the broad path to our maintenance hangar, a million different thoughts swirled through my head. What should I expect?  How should I act?

I knew that in a matter of hours the hangar would be filled with children, many of whom had seen more of a hospital in the past year than I'd seen in a lifetime.

Truthfully, it's hard not to think about. It tears me up inside, the thought that any child has to go through what these kids have endured.  But I knew this was their weekend to forget their worries, and so I did my best to do the same.  Stepping into the dressed-up hangar for the first time made me realize just how big a deal the weekend was, and the kids hadn't even arrived yet.  An Emmy-themed red carpet adorned the entrance, leading to food, a mobile game truck, and other fun activities.  Giant Emmy statues lined the black-curtained walls.  The newest Toy Story movie was being tested for audio and video.

Soon, all of this would be open for the kids' enjoyment.  I was amazed at how quickly and seamlessly it had come together.  The Kidd's Kids leaders and Southwest's own team have the event down, from send-off to arrival.  The children arrived in specialized golf carts, redesigned to look like a classic car and a Hummer.  You don't have to see it in person to know how much an event like Kidd's Kids means to these children.  But, boy, watching everyone laugh and smile is truly contagious.

After about an hour of fun and games, Kidd Kraddick said a few words and officially kicked off the event.  Waiting on the runway outside our private maintenance hangar was a WiFi-equipped plane, decked out in a Kidd's Kids decal.  Everyone loaded up and off they went for five days of fun at The Magic Kingdom and surrounding parks.

Several of us from Southwest met up with the kids in Disney World on Sunday evening.  Reuniting with many of the kids I got to know at the send-off reminded me just how much an impact this trip had on them.  The kids brimmed with smiles, all climbing over each other to tell me about their favorite part of the trip.

Arriving back in Dallas was hard, but the memories of this trip will last forever.

Thank you, Kidd Kraddick, Derrick, the whole team (you know who you are)!  What you do is so much larger than life, and I can't thank you enough for not only giving the children a one-of-a-kind experience, but also for giving Southwest the opportunity to be part of it.
10 Comments
Anonymous1677
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SW and KIDD'S KIDS are awesome!!
Cynthia_Bonta
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What a precious gesture from SWA. Such a well written testimony. I, too, got teary thinking of the smiles in those children's hearts. That is why SWA stands out in my eyes.
Anonymous2418
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An avid listener of KKTM, contributor to kidd's kids and love flying SW...I think SW participation and support of the Kidd's kids trip is amazing and a testament to what a great organization SW is! The joy it brings to those kids and their families is priceless. Thanks SW for sharing this story with others.
Anonymous1679
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I would like to thank you and appreciate what SW. does for these children. About about 15 years ago I became and instant single parent of 5 children with the 3 year old that now is a beautiful young lady graduating from high school this coming June. She has always wish to take a trip to Disney World, but it has never been possible. What is so espcial about this young lady is the fact that at the age of only sixteen months old she suffered a very head trauma that left her with a weak right side, left eye blind and amputaed left leg . She is really my hero, and now as a resolt the head injury she has sevier head aches. These children came into my life a few month before my 60th birthday. So I thank you for doing what you do for these children and their families. When I doing some air travel I use Southwest. God bless and keep up the good work.
John_H__Coleman
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I;m a retired educator/social worker who is involved with a small non-profit org in the San Bernardino area of So California, (Nadine@speakthedream.org) which is planning/arranging to take a group of 8 teen-aged foster-home youth to NYC to visit 3 top colleges and see culturally iconic places, and, a 'side trip' to DC, & a tour of the White House or the Capital, during a week in April, 2011. Nadine Lee was a foster-home child who made the transition to the corporate world. She, & supporters, believe that an in-depth, intensive but guided exposure of this type can be an eye & mind-opening growth experience that can be the difference that makes the difference in the life-possibilities of (at least these) foster home youth whose current daily experience provides little support for expanding their horizons. Her partner foster home agencies are raising funds to support expenses of the youth they will send. Before seeing this: "Nuts About Southwest" e-message I had forgotten that during the period when I made frequent R/T flights from ONT to SMF on planes packed with school children being taken on educational/field (same day) trips to visit the California State Capital, that Sothwest might have a program which could be a part in enabling the Speak the Dream project.'s successful implementation. Please forward this as a "request" to the appropriate Southwest officials, who may respond directly to Nadine Lee, CEO/Founder, through her web site, or "nadine@speakthedream.org. Thank you.
Anonymous2763
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Life is quite a struggle Both physically and financially especially when my husband was diagnosed with "muscular dystrophy" and he's turning 64 years old next April, 2010 and he nor my whole family have ever been to either of these theme parks "Disneyland nor Disney World" nor any vacations . We have brought up 4 wonderful children and our youngest daughter has "MOEBIUS SYNDROME" a very rare muscular/ nerve deformities which the fifth and sixth nerve are not completely developed which control the face and physical movements that make her feel inferior and low self-esteem since classmates bullied and make fun of her deformities and disability to show any facial expressions and her eyes does not close fully which make her very susceptible to eye infections since it doesn't close completely during sleeping time and no lubrications so it's so dry all the time. He's still working on a low low income just to educate and provide a a home for my four children and a wife who has lot of medical problems and taking a lot of prescriptions for "fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis, asthma, COPD, severe migraine, panic and anxiety disorders, carpel tunnel, restless leg syndrome, etc. We hopefully wish that my husband , my daughter, me and my whole family can have a wonderful trip as a family to these theme parks before my husband become totally disabled. His disabling condition is turning for the worst and so are mine and my daughter. We never had a family vacation since we are financially unable and our number one priority as parents is to provide them a good education for each of them as much as possible even if we have to sacrifice ourselves as parents. Hopefully someone out there have some compassions for us with such difficult , striving society and our very complicated medical conditions and we would like this to be a very memorable, unforgetable enjoyable family vacations. Thank you very ,much for taking time to read this!!!!!
Anonymous1645
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I surely DREAM of sending my 3 beautiful granddaughters and their Momma & Dad to Disney World..or something that they would always remember! I'll keep on dreaming! xo
Jason_M_
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Hello, My name is Jason, I am a Disable Veteran, on a very limited , fixed income. I have two kids and just can't afford to take my kids to Disney. They have been asking about it, alot. I feel so incredibley aweful that I just can't afford it. We tried saving towards it, but of course some thing always comes up. Things like getting a retainer for my sons teath. My wife needeing a route canal. Automobile trouble. Overwhelming expenses during the winter months from heating bills. Well I apoligize for my venting. I think that it is wonderful for all those families that, You organization, South West and Disney are able to help. It is Such a relieve to know there are people that still care enough to help others. In my mind I can see the faces of the children in my head as they walk into the Disney Parks. Looking up at that amazing castle and all the spectacular possibilities that await them, evry step they take. Like the stresses of the real world can't weigh them down. It is a magical thought. So I take away that piece of magic and thank you for all that you do for people. Good bless you have a great holiday season. Please always keep this spirit of giving , love and happiness alive. Your friends 🙂
Jason_M_
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Can you tell me if there are any programs for disabled veterans and their families. I asked Disney thru an email last year, but the said they have no programs like that.I was shocked to hear that from Disney. I have suffered for 5 years with a few disabling condition.I have good days and bad days. The worst part of being sick ,is seeing my kids and wife watch me.They suffer, and have so much stress in sorry in thier eyes.The deserve to see happiness.To have fun, to find the magic ,life has to offer.That is the memory I want them all to share with me. I am looking for a christmas miracle, and maybe some holiday magic.If you know of a way to help email message.I will cross my fingers.Mr M.
Anonymous973
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I'm a listener of Kidd Kraddick in the am and it brings tears to my eyes every year when this comes around. I wish more people ie celebrities and companies would contribute to causes like this. The staff of the radio show works hard to raise money to send the kids on this trip. This is the spirit of giving. I'm glad SW is also helping. Other companies need to be nudged into doing more events like this instead of giving bonuses to their bigwigs.