Today is a special day. Today we celebrate World Wish Day. You probably know of Make-A-Wish and their mission—to grant wishes to children with life-threatening medical conditions.
I’ve had the great blessing of becoming more involved with Make-A-Wish over the past couple of years by serving on their National Board of Directors.
Make-A-Wish and Southwest Airlines have a lot in common. We both have great people that make what we do possible. And we both connect people to what’s important in their lives—Southwest does that through friendly, reliable, low-cost air travel, and Make-A-Wish does it through granting wishes.
Southwest officially became a national sponsor of Make-A-Wish in 2011, and our relationship has only grown since then. Since that time we have had approximately 100 Employees volunteer with Make-A-Wish, giving 1,400 hours of their time. We have donated more than 8,000 tickets on both Southwest and AirTran to provide travel for wish kids and their families. I’m so proud to say that over the past three-and-a-half years, Southwest has given more than $3 million in tickets and cash donations to Make-A-Wish.
Beyond our national and corporate sponsorship, many of our People across the system are making wish families’ trips easy, seamless, and memorable. From big greetings, decorated gates, special announcements, personal gate-to-gate attention—our Employees provide VIP service to true VIPs. I’m thankful to work with the kinds of people who go above and beyond to contribute to and enhance the overall wish experience.
Last fall, at the annual Make-A-Wish conference, I was introduced to 17-year-old Daria. She was born blind, yet always dreamed of playing the harp. Make-A-Wish enlisted the help of Laura, a professional harpist, whose daughter happened to also be a wish kid. Daria listened to several harps and selected the Celtic harp as her favorite. She now had a harp, braille music books, and a teacher, and it was up to her to fulfill her wish of learning to play. After all the challenges Daria has overcome in her life, she gladly accepted this one. I sat in awe as she played a beautiful version of “What Child is This?” to the large audience. And, as great as that was, it wasn’t the best part. At the end of her performance, all of us in the audience sprang to our feet for a standing ovation. All of the sudden, it dawned on us that Daria couldn’t see us standing. That is when the cheers went up. The entire room was, as we say in West Texas, hootin’ and hollerin.’ It was at that moment that a huge, ear-to-ear grin appeared on Daria’s face.
I love Make-A-Wish and the impact they have on families who are going through such difficult and stressful times. I love the hope and joy they provide. I love helping to make wishes come true. This is an organization near and dear to my heart, and one I really believe in and support. I’m so proud that we at Southwest Airlines get to help play a part in turning wishes into realities. Here’s to another year of making wishes come true!