At Southwest Airlines, we connect people to what’s important in their lives. We LUV celebrations and making the ordinary, extraordinary. This is a guest post by Juli McClave, wish granter and Volunteer Manager for Make-A-Wish® Alaska and Washington.
To paraphrase Ralph Waldo Emerson, experiences are made by the journey, not the destination. As a society that tends to focus on the grand finale, we often miss the beauty of the adventure in simply enjoying the ride. The ride is something 11-year-old Barron does not take for granted.
Barron has chronic kidney disease and will eventually need a transplant, likely with a kidney donated by one of his parents. It was important for Barron and his family to take a trip to get away from the stresses of ordinary life. I had the enormous pleasure of volunteering to help grant Barron’s wish to go to the Florida theme parks with his family. Unbeknownst to Barron, his experience would begin well before his arrival in Florida.
Upon entering the Seattle airport, Barron and his family were greeted with a personalized gift bag and warm smile by a Southwest Airlines Customer Service Agent. After checking the family in, the Customer Service Agent issued the family early boarding passes and helped us connect with our TSA contact. Bursting with excitement, Barron sorted through the gift bag once he arrived at the gate, spreading out the contents and showcasing them for everyone to admire. His gift bag was filled with Seattle Seahawks memorabilia, including a plush Seahawks blanket and assorted toys, but his favorite item was the inflatable Southwest Airlines plane! He inflated it and “flew” it around the gate area. While a difficult trek led Barron to this experience, for that moment in time, he was able to enjoy the innocence and simplicity of childhood.
Once onboard, the Pilot invited Barron into the cockpit and allowed him to shadow his routine pre-flight tests. Barron was overjoyed to flip levers, push buttons and sound a very impressive alarm. While this may have been just another day at the office for these Southwest Employees, it built cherished memories for Barron.
Many focus on getting from point A to B, pursuing the next great adventure. Although Florida was Barron’s final destination of the wish trip, Southwest Airlines helped create memories along the way and gave Barron a great adventure that went well beyond his wildest expectations. He had the time of his life at the airport, and that was just the beginning of his wish. What a way to get it started!
I cannot say enough about how special Southwest Airlines made Barron and his family feel. Nothing about his send-off could have been better—It was incredible! His dad told me that this wish was just the thing that the family needed to lighten their heavy load. Thank you, Southwest Airlines and all supporters of Make-A-Wish!