The following post was submitted by Dhilan's mom, Sheila.
My son, Dhilan, loves airplanes and Southwest Airlines is, by far, his favorite. Although he cannot identify all airlines by their logos or colors, he can easily recognize Southwest Airlines. His teachers are so impressed with how, upon seeing a Southwest jet flying overhead, he will suddenly stop playing on the playground, point to the sky and scream to anyone that will listen, and even those that do not, “It’s Southwest Airlines!” That’s why it came as no surprise that Dhilan wanted a Southwest Airlines themed birthday party.
My son is fanatical about airplanes. More specifically, he is fanatical about Southwest Airlines airplanes. We have been flying as a family since Dhilan was a baby. The night before a flight, he can hardly sleep because he is so excited. In the morning, he will jump out of bed and yell for everyone to hurry up so we can make our Southwest Airlines flight. We never have to think about packing entertainment for him. If he starts to get bored, we simply open the window and he will spend the next several hours mesmerized by looking out the window. Taxiing, taking off, landing, and even cruising at 35,000 all fill his eyes with wondrous amazement. We shouldn’t be surprised by Dhilan’s innate fascination with airplanes. My husband is a former F-15 fighter pilot, having served in the U.S. Air Force for over ten years. Some of his good friends are now pilots at Southwest Airlines.
Dad and baby Dhilan (Halloween)Dhilan is one of the sweetest boys you will ever meet. He listens to his parents, he says “please” and “thank you,” he takes care of his baby sister, and he has a heart of gold. We wanted to make Dhilan’s fourth birthday party really special. While all his friends were celebrating with Mickey Mouse or Star Wars parties, Dhilan specifically asked us if we could throw him a Southwest Airlines party. We simply couldn’t say no.
We contacted Southwest Airlines a couple of months before the party and told them about Dhilan’s love of planes and Southwest Airlines. Not only did they immediately offer to help, Southwest was overwhelmingly generous with their support. They sent Dhilan all sorts of goodies for him and his friends to help his birthday come to life, including Southwest Airlines cups, napkins, pretzels, bag tags, Pilot wings, and more. On top of that, they also sent some presents specifically for Dhilan to fuel his love of Southwest Airlines.
The driveway was converted into a runway.The birthday party was a huge hit! We started with the driveway, recreating a special airplane runway and then transformed our backyard into a “Southwest Airlines” experience. The tables had hot air balloon centerpieces with Southwest’s logo, and we had pictures of Southwest airplanes everywhere. The kids enjoyed a bouncy castle (in blue, red, and yellow of course) and a cake topped with a Southwest plane and bus.
The Monday after the party, Dhilan’s teacher told me that she had heard about every detail of the party. I asked if one of the parents said something, but she said she heard it from the kids. The kids couldn’t stop talking about it!
Southwest Airlines, you truly made Dhilan’s birthday one he will never forget. From all of us—including your #1 four-year-old fan—thank you!
Bouncy castle in Southwest colors"Baggage Claim" goody bag stationDhilan and his friends