For 15 years, Southwest has partnered with Kidd’s Kids to send children facing serious illness and their families on the trip of a lifetime to the Happiest Place on Earth. Since 2015, Southwest Pilot, Keltner, has volunteered at the Kidd’s Kids send-off event and flew the charter flight from Dallas to Orlando in 2019. This year, there were a few extra-special passengers onboard Keltner’s flight to Orlando: his nephew, Gabriel, and his family were selected to go on the 2021 Kidd’s Kids trip.
Southwest Pilot, Keltner, welcomes his nephew, Gabriel, aboard the 2021 Kidd's Kids flight.Keltner has been a Pilot for Southwest for nearly ten years. When he heard about the partnership between Southwest and Kidd’s Kids to send children facing serious illness and their families on the trip of a lifetime, he felt called to help. In 2015, he began volunteering at the annual send-off event, in which families who have been selected to go on the trip gather in Dallas to fly on a charter flight to Orlando. He welcomed the families, helped them get ready to board the flight, and answered questions that the excited travelers had about flying.
For 15 years, Southwest has partnered with Kidd’s Kids to send children facing serious illness and their families on the trip of a lifetime to the Happiest Place on Earth.Each year, the Southwest Pilots, Flight Attendants, and Ground Crew who work the flight donate their time, and Southwest donates the aircraft to help reduce the burden on families and make it truly memorable. In 2019, Keltner had his first opportunity to fly the charter flight from Dallas to Orlando, and jumped at the chance.
Gabriel and his family get ready to fly on the Southwest charter flight with the Kidd's Kids group.
Around this same time, he began to encourage his sister, Wheeler, to apply for the Kidd’s Kids trip. Her son, Gabriel, who is Keltner’s nephew, has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair to get around. “Wheeler and her family have never had a true vacation,” said Keltner. “They do so much for their community and have been through so much as a family, and they are incredibly deserving of this once-in-a-lifetime trip.” Keltner was at Wheeler’s house when a package arrived at the door. Their family had been selected to go on the 2021 Kidd’s Kids trip!
To make the flight to Orlando even more special for Gabriel, Keltner flew this year’s charter flight from Dallas to Orlando. Just as he has in past years, Keltner welcomed all of the families with the warmth and Hospitality that Southwest is known for, and the rest of the Flight Crew and volunteers made the experience for the Kidd’s Kids and their families truly memorable.
Southwest Pilot Keltner flew this year’s charter flight from Dallas to Orlando.We’re grateful for our 15 years of partnership with Kidd’s Kids and congratulate them on their 30th year of making a difference in the lives of these children and their families.