In January of this year, my wife and I were faced with what no parent ever wants to hear: a tumor had been found on the brain stem of our five-month-old daughter, Cadence. You can imagine the pain we felt in our hearts that this was happening to our little girl. We were brand new parents, who felt challenged enough to not mess up our first child as we learned our way through this new concept of parenting. At this point, we knew we had a challenge facing the three of us we could never have prepared for. To make matters even more difficult, my wife and I had just moved to Dallas from Phoenix, after I was promoted to a position at Headquarters. We had no family or friends within a thousand miles, or so I thought.
After learning about the tumor, I talked to my managers, John and David, about what we had just found out and also shared it with my team. Soon after, I began to see how wrong I was thinking that we were not going to have the local family support we so badly needed. It started with a flood of emails, not just from Coworkers in my department, but from parts of the Company and People I did not even know existed. I was overwhelmed with offers to bring us dinners, babysitting, transportation, etc. My Coworkers were chomping at the bit to help our family. I realized then that these are not my Coworkers. These people are my family. Granted, regardless of what Company you may work for, caring and loving people are everywhere and many probably have similar stories. This is where the story begins to bring the tears to my eyes, and believe me, I despise crying.
A couple weeks later, things really started moving with the doctors at Children’s Medical Center of Dallas, where Cadence was being taken care of. Cadence had hours of MRIs and multiple visits with neurosurgeons to find the best way to treat a tumor on the brain stem of a five-month-old girl. Despite our fantastic health insurance, the bills were quickly piling up and we found our financial burdens way over our heads. After catching wind of this, my Management Team convinced me to apply for Southwest’s Catastrophic Assistance. This Employee-funded assistance grants money to Employees who find themselves in unexpected financial binds and need some help to get through it. There are absolutely no strings attached. I knew I needed to leave my ego at the door and ask for help and my family at Southwest did help. Thanks to the many Employees contributing to this fund, who likely do not even know who I am, we have been able to provide all the necessary care to give Cadence every opportunity to win this battle with her tumor. I also was floored by the purest example of a Servant’s Heart when David, my Manager, offered to pay for Cadence’s second MRI while insurance issues were sorted out. I also must thank the incredible Benefits Team we have, who took on sorting out all of Cadence’s insurance battles so we didn’t have to worry about it. We have such incredible People with the purest of hearts at this Company.
Lara and I have been overwhelmed by our newfound Family’s support that appears to have absolutely no limits. I have never seen a Company so caring for not only the Employee base as a whole, but every single Employee as an individual and their families. In fact, we received a handwritten note from Southwest CEO Gary Kelly wishing for Cadence's quick recovery, and he has been in contact with us regarding her progress. We have a long road ahead of us and I cannot express how fortunate we are to be part of this Family. This is not an easy subject to share publicly but I wanted to share this incredible story of LUV and family with everyone and most importantly, I want to thank my family at Southwest Airlines for helping save our daughter’s life.