It’s true that at Southwest Airlines, Employees are not just Coworkers, they’re Family. And as a Family, we come together to celebrate each other’s successes, bear each other’s burdens, and encourage each other through thick and thin. I want to introduce you to one particularly special Southwest Family Member and let you know a little bit about his truly amazing and inspiring story.
Ed Pawlik is a Member of Southwest's Technology Department’s Service Desk Team who helps fellow Employees with their technical questions on a daily basis. Over the past six years, Ed has dealt with some serious medical challenges battling cancer, amyloidosis, and congestive heart failure. Prior to these medical setbacks, Ed was an avid cyclist and participated in many types of athletic events. Though his illnesses robbed him of most of his physical capabilities, what remained marked on Ed’s soul was his love for the bike and the freedom of the ride.
As a part of his battle with cancer, Ed received a stem cell transplant in January of 2011 that saved his life. But even more remarkable, when faced with congestive heart failure, Ed received the ultimate life-saving gift of a heart transplant on June 18, 2015! Because of that amazing gift of life, Ed is looking forward to seeing his three children grow up and to having many more years to spend with his wife. Ed is also so glad to be back on his bike!
Ed posing as “Ironman” about to leave the hospital with his new heart.
Ed participated in the October 18, 2015, LIVESTRONG Challenge in Austin where he rode 20 miles as a part of the LIVESTRONG Foundation’s effort to benefit and support cancer patients. He did all of this only four months and a day after receiving a brand new heart! Ed was inspired by a good friend who participated in the Challenge in 2010, the year Ed was diagnosed with cancer, and he was able to provide the same encouragement and motivation to others who are fighting similar battles. Ed is joined by many others across the globe who are seeking to raise money and awareness for the LIVESTRONG Foundation, as this organization serves people affected by cancer and empowers them to take action against the disease. For the Challenge, Ed personally raised $5,000 and his team raised $15,000 all of which went directly to support programs and services for cancer survivors to help them live life on their own terms—just like Ed has.
Ed participating in the 2015 LIVESTRONG Challenge in honor of loved ones.
While Ed’s medical journey has not been easy or painless, he has shown his Warrior Spirit over the last few years. Moving forward, Ed plans to continue bringing awareness to the importance of organ and bone marrow donation and hopes to participate in several more riding challenges in 2016 to raise funds for various research foundations. Southwest is lucky to have Ed as a part of the Family, and we truly celebrate the gift of life he received.