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Southwest Airlines Salutes the Inheritance of Hope

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Nick Smith and his family recently traveled from Shelton, Washington, to Lake George, New York, to participate in an Inheritance of Hope Legacy Retreat.  Legacy Retreats are four-day, all-expenses-paid experiences for young families who have a parent with a life-threatening illness to help them create memories and build a community of support (see group photo).  Inheritance of Hope provides an opportunity for a distressed family to learn and offers tools to help each member of the family successfully navigate this difficult period in their lives.

Nick is a 41-year-old single father who is living with a brain tumor that has affected his speech, memory, hearing and eyesight.  He's also paralyzed on the right side of his body, leaving him wheelchair-bound.  Nick was joined on the Inheritance of Hope Legacy Retreat by his older brother Ron, who has moved to help care for him; his daughter Raquel (15); and sons Javon (10); and Damon (5).

Southwest Airlines made it possible for the Smith family to fly from Seattle to Albany, N.Y., on Wednesday, June 23rd by donating tickets to Inheritance of Hope.  After resting overnight in an airport hotel and adjusting to Eastern Time, the Smiths were picked up by Inheritance of Hope staff and driven to the Six Flags Great Escape Lodge and Indoor Waterpark in Lake George.  Six Flags partners with Inheritance of Hope through its Six Flags Friends program.

Nick and his family cooled off in the lodge’s indoor waterpark on Thursday afternoon before meeting six other families from around the country who attended the Legacy Retreat.  Following dinner, adults shared time together with a counselor while their children worked through activities and games under the guidance and supervision of a licensed counselor.  “I get choked up when I think about it ... but what you guys have going on is really awesome.  I am so thankful to be a part of it,” shared Ron Smith, Nick’s older brother.
On Friday, a gorgeous day to be outdoors, the Smiths spent time together as a family at the Six Flags Great Escape Theme Park.  On Saturday, they went whitewater rafting on the Sacandaga River (see attached picture).

This proved to be an especially big deal for Nick, who was concerned and even reluctant to participate because the entire right side of his body is paralyzed.  But he was thrilled by the experience, and even more excited to share the joy of that time together with his children and brother. For an afternoon, at least, Nick was not defined or even limited by his illness.

Later Saturday afternoon, Nick recorded a Legacy Video for his children.  Inheritance of Hope set up a recording room and left Nick alone with the camera to share his wisdom, advice, hopes and dreams with his children.  On Saturday night, Nick and Ron spent time alone together while the children hung out with Inheritance of Hope's amazing volunteers at "Kid's Night Out."

Following a closing service on Sunday, the Smith’s returned to Seattle on Southwest Airlines.  Before leaving, Damon said “I wish I could stay here forever.”  Nick added, “The Inheritance of Hope Legacy Retreat was a dream come true for me and my family.  Thanks to Southwest Airlines for helping make it possible.”

About Inheritance of Hope

Inheritance of Hope was founded in by Kristen and Deric Milligan following several years of coping with the challenges of raising three young children while battling a terminal illness. Inheritance of Hope serves young families who have a parent with a life-threatening illness through Legacy Retreats, four day all-expense-paid events for families to make memories and build a community of support.  Since starting in 2007, Inheritance of Hope has hosted families from 18 states at their Legacy Retreats.

For more information about Inheritance of Hope or to arrange an interview, please contact Deric Milligan at (914) 213-8435. Information regarding Inheritance of Hope can also be obtained at