While Southwest Airlines definitely knows how to throw a party, the tables were recently turned when the Ronald McDonald House of Dallas threw a party to honor Southwest. My heart was literally bursting with LUV for both sides of the party since I am an 11+ year Employee of Southwest Airlines, and sit on the Board of Directors for the Ronald McDonald House of Dallas. With tremendous admiration and awe, I have watched Dallas build a much needed, much larger house during one of the worst economic times in recent history. And with great pride, I also helped Southwest raise money over the past three years at our annual Dallas LUV Classic golf tournaments to support this new house. In fact, it felt very much like my own house unveiling when we recently attended their party!
The Ronald McDonald House invited all Southwest Employees to get a sneak peek at the almost fully completed 60,000 square foot, 60-room house opening next week. Yummy Mexican food was served in the new gargantuan kitchen (which is the size equivalent of FOUR commercial kitchens), and will be a fancy change for the next Southwest Employee cooking group and their monthly dinners. We also got to see the handiwork and artistry of some Southwest Employees--who donated time and resources to make a few rooms extra special.
The two play/game rooms off the dining areas are painted in the legendary “Canyon Blue” color with hidden animal-shaped clouds hand-painted by a Southwest Employee, and posters hang on the walls of all of our “specialty” plane--including Shamu One! A few seats from an old 737 are even positioned in front of the TVs. A talented group from Maintenance also used some other pieces of one of our beloved 737s to create a beautiful “frame” that shows pictures of former residents beaming out the windows of the plane. In addition, there is a wall of LUV dedicated to the house that includes hearts and sentimental decorations--all donated and hung with LUV by our own Employees.
The folks from the Ronald McDonald House of Dallas really outdid themselves as a "thank you" to all our volunteers and supporters, but they had a very special surprise in mind for two very special volunteers. Barbara McDermott, Executive Director of the Ronald McDonald House of Dallas, dedicated the front street to Herb Kelleher and Colleen Barrett for their LUV and support through all the years. “Herb and Colleen Way” leads from the street, right up to the front door of the House. You could definitely see that both were actually surprised (and that is hard to do!) and visibly moved by the heartfelt gesture. Barbara then introduced the band who sang a sweet song called, “The House That Love Built,” written especially for the Ronald McDonald House of Dallas by Wade Kilgore. You can hear an excerpt of the song on the podcast on Red Belly Radio.
The Ronald McDonald House has been Southwest’s most beloved charity for almost 25 years! I speak for all Southwest Employees when I say we couldn’t have been more proud to be there to celebrate this exciting new and beautiful “home away from home” for families with seriously ill children.
To listen to a podcast of the event (complete with song!) check out our Red Belly Radio.