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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


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What an amazing story and organization! Keep up the good work!
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I love this! What an amazing opportunity for deserving families.
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Thanks to Southwest Airlines for working with Inheritance of Hope! All of these hard-working folks make it possible for these families to have some wonderful memories.
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What a great partnership to bring about meaningful impact to families with this special circumstance and need. It is encouraging to see how companies like Southwest embrace opportunities like this. Go SWA! Go Inheritance Of Hope! Kenny Jahng
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What an amazing story to share with many others who will visit this site. I think it is a very well planned and organized gift that those at Inheritance of Hope offers to other. Thanks for sharing.
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This is a great organization and run by dedicated, compassionate people. Thank you Southwest for supporting their mission!
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I am familiar with Inheritance of Hope, and they have made an amazing impact in the lives of so many families. Of course helping one family at a time makes fundraising difficult, so anyone able to donate can make a big impact in this organization. They also have a cool option where you can sign up to have them debit your card with a monthly or quarterly donation... then you don't forget@ And it can be a little smaller and still make a big impact over time. GREAT ORGANIZATION, and THANK YOU to Southwest for seeing the value in this organization and helping out! It is so nice to see an organization in this economy still giving back to the community!!!
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Thank you, Southwest Airlines, for helping Inheritance of Hope make incredible, life-changing memories! We salute you and appreciate your thought-filled generosity. Linda Stoll
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SOUTHWEST - In a time when there is precious little good news and an abundance of ill will aimed at the airline industry because of rising fees, poor on-time departure & arrival schedules, and inconsistent service, it is so encouraging to see a story like this. Thank you, SOUTHWEST, for getting involved, investing a little profit in a trustworthy organization and with a needy and imminently worthwhile cause. You are to be commended for making a difference. Thank you!
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I have been following the Milligan's journey for several years. It is truly amazing what good things come from our struggles.
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I am so thrilled that you are working with IOH. They are a wonderful organization. I can see they impacted you like they impact so many others. Thanks for saluting this wonderful group of people and all they do. I salute you.
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My family is honored to have been a part of the Inheritance Of Hope retreat program as well. We flew via Southwest to Orlando in January. Our flying experience was awesome, the stewardess we had made the baby laugh and gave her "extra special cookies" as we were leaving. Inheritance of Hope gave our family a vacation with no worries that we otherwise would never be able to have as finances wont allow it. And with out partners like Southwest Airlines and Sponsors, the ongoing trips would not be possible for other families. I tell everyone I meet about the program, its not until they ask how I know that I share my personal story with them. Our family never stops talking about our trip and our baby who was 1 at the time remembers it well, she is even set on having a Minnie Mouse Birthday party. She carries the room key card in her little purse. For such an impact to be made on a child so small you have to know it is a WONDERFUL event. By the way, she loves planes so much she drives us bonkers when se hears or sees one and she is ready to fly somewhere :) God Bless Inheritance of Hope and God Bless Southwest Airlines!! The Obercorns/Jones
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It refreshing to see a company really giving back and making a difference, and what a great organization to team up with. You both should be proud, and let others know about the great things happening behind the scenes!! Keep up the good work!
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Wow! It's touching to see an airline that cares so much in these times of so little. What a great gift you gave to this family, who may not have had this special opportunity otherwise. Great job Southwest!!!
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SOUTHWEST this is a great cause and rest assured that it will resonate with a lot of customers. I will certainly keep this in mind when making my next airline booking. Great job Inheritance of Hope and SOUTHWEST!!!
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Thank you Southwest Airlines! = ) Inheritance of Hope is a WONDERFUL organization.
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We were blessed to be able to go on one of the Inheritance of Hope retreats. It was a time of comfort and refreshment and the building of memories. Thank you Southwest Airlines for supporting this awesome organization!
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What a perfect partnership...Southwest Airlines and Inheritance of Hope, two organizations who care more about people and families than they do profits and financial success. To Nick and your family, please know that as a new member of the IOH family, there are hundreds and thousands of people praying for you and sharing your story and the stories of the families who have been touched by Inheritance of Hope.
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This wonderful story of hope and love filled my heart today. Thank you Inheritance of Hope and Southwest Airlines.
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I have never been more proud to fly Southwest! Thank you for your willingness to serve families with such great needs.
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Dear Southwest Airlines: My stepson, Michael Davis, works for Conoco-Phillips in Newark, New Jersey. He is also dedicated to Inheritance of Hope, having lost his father to cancer as a teenager. Michael not only has suported IOH financially by training for a running in one of their recent half-marathons, but he also volunteers with some of their retreat opportunities. Needless to say, his mother and I are very proud of him. As a native Texan, I've also been a proud supporter of Southwest Airlines and their efforts to make travel affordable for everyone. But now I have an even greater reason to be thankful for your company due to your support of families like Nick Smith's through IOH. Thank you so much, keep up and the good work, and be assured I'll be flying Southwest as often as possible. Mark McCoy Brandon, Mississippi
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Thank you, Southwest; for your support of Inheritance of Hope.
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What this family is doing is so selfless. In the midst of their own challenges with terminal cancer, they are thinking of others and of how they can serve. They are touching the lives of many people with whom they would never have had contact otherwise. The hope they offer at these retreats is changing the perspective of families who have been devastated. The effect is far-reaching.
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Nice job Southwest and IOH. what a great story!!!
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Thanks to both Southwest Airlines and Inheritance of Hope for doing what you do!
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Someone once told me that insurance companies shoud cover vacations for families who are fighting a serious illness. It makes sense - it is good medicine to take a break from the hospitals and doctors and the fear that seems to always accompany the disease. THANK YOU SOUTHWEST for recognizing that need and providing just that for these families!!
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Sure wish Southwest Airlines was available out of Charlotte. Your reputation continues to soar.
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God is using you, Southwest, to help and bless so many! May He bless you in return.
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Very touching and inspirational, thanks Southwest Airlines and Inheritance of Hope for teaming up to make it happen.
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Both Southwest Airlines and IOH saw a need and were willing to do something about it. Thank you both for your dedication. I'm so proud of my friends the Milligans - they are amazing people and now I'm even more pleased to be a dedicated Southwest fan - Thank you so much!
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I love that southwest is so involved with helping others and have great outreach in the community. I suffer with health challenges and I wish we could look into healthy options when flying jet fuel toxins ect. A good resource is and Thanks for what you do Southwest
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How generous of Southwest Airlines to enable this family to spend cherished time together. Thank you Southwest for allowing it to happen!
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Thank you Southwest for supporting such a wonderful organization and therefore supporting families in need!