In 1997, a Southwest Airlines Flight Crew bound from Los Angeles to Phoenix was faced with a three-hour Air Traffic Control delay. In traditional Southwest Airlines style they entertained the passengers with "Positively Outrageous Service" (or, POS), which inspired one individual to approach Southwest Airlines to help provide the same type of experience for some underprivileged children in the local Phoenix area. The experience for these children was something they never forgot; their first airplane flight, all donated by Southwest and inspired by an anonymous Flight Crew.
Fast forward nearly ten years later, and that experience was again the inspiration for an event in December 2006 for 600 children and 300 spouses of military members who had been killed since 9/11. The event was called the Snowball Express, and it is chronicled at snowballexpress.org where the children and widows speak of this life-changing event. An all expenses-paid weekend at Disneyland and other attractions generated new, more pleasant memories for children who had lost a parent in the armed forces. Here are some of their impressions:
"I am brought to tears when I remember my weekend spent with The Snowball Express. I know without the backing of Southwest Airlines, the event may not have been possible. I don't even know how to say THANK YOU in a way for you to understand how deep your support is still felt in my spirit. I believe I may be living on a little bit of that "Southwest Spirit" that I've heard about.""Last Christmas was our first one without Michael, and because of you and the Snowball express, our tears were much lighter and we have wonderful memories of 2006. I will never be able to put into words the impact Snowball Express had on our family.""My husband had only been gone two months, and I had not seen my son smile since the day we got the news. Standing in line at Disneyland, he looked at me and said, 'Mom, I guess we can still have fun even though Dad is gone.' You all made that possible."
Southwest Airlines, along with many other corporate sponsors helped fly many of these families to Orange County last year and again will help bring 1,500 children and spouses to Disneyland for an all expenses-paid weekend November 30 through December 3. I'm proud to work for both organizations that are changing lives and offering hope to so many. The Freedom to Fly is not just a slogan for these families; they have sacrificed more than most to allow us all the Freedoms we so enjoy. One Southwest Crew + "POS" service = 1000+ (and counting) lives that have been changed, not bad for a "little ole Texas airline."
If you wish to join Southwest Airlines and other corporations in helping make these dreams come true, please visit www.snowballexpress.org and learn more. Thanks to Southwest Airlines and the generosity of their Employees for helping!