There are multiple things that immediately come to mind when I think of the word "pride". For example, anyone who is a parent can relate to the immense pride we have in our children’s accomplishments. And this week, we are celebrating the extraordinary pride we all feel for our country and the military men and women who protect it. These are the obvious examples that virtually anyone can relate to. I am lucky enough to have a deep pride in something I don't think many get to experience - at least not to this level. Today, I am reminded of the enormous pride I feel for my Company and my Coworkers.
More than four years ago, a few of us from Southwest sat down at a table with the folks from the Kidd Kraddick Show. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Kidd, he is a Dallas-based deejay who hosts a syndicated radio show and has huge heart. Sitting across the table from Kidd that morning, you could feel the passion he has for his charity – Kidd’s Kids. He brought all of us into the room that day to ask us a question on the behalf of sick children everywhere who want nothing more than to escape to a magical place. He knew what he wanted was not a small order but he also knew that the Employees of Southwest Airlines had a heart just as big as his.
And he was right. We left the room promising him a plane. That’s right, Kidd asked for one of our Boeing 737s to send sick children and their families to Disney World in Orlando every year for five days of fun. Five days that these kids could forget about their illness, forget about the struggles, the hospitals they endure on a regular bases and we said, “Yes.” Now, it was time to break the news to our Executives that we just donated a plane, free of charge.
Now enters the pride. We explained what this plane would mean to the kids and why it was the right thing to do. One memo later, we officially had our Southwest plane. Now we were faced with what we thought would be our next challenge at the time, finding a Southwest crew to donate their time to work the flight to and from Orlando. We quickly learned that the only challenge was deciding how we were going to select from the long list of pilots and flight attendants who wanted an opportunity to be a part of this wonderful cause.
Today is our fourth year to send these kids to Disney World – Southwest style! We fly them from our private hangar in Dallas with one heck of a party – complete with balloons, video games, food, big screen movies, and a visit from the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders. Many local vendors donate their time and product, proving that there is a host of people who care and want to make a difference. A group of Southwest Employees volunteer their time to ensure the kids get to Orlando safe and that they feel special as soon as they step onto our campus.
I am extremely thankful to not only play a very small part in today’s Kidd’s Kids adventure but more importantly, to work for a Company that I am proud of.
Southwest is the official airline of the Kidd’s Kids trip to Disney World. For more information about Kidd’s Kids, visit www.KiddsKids.com.