On June 22, Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport saw a VIP go through their gates. “Little Levi” Krystosek, 10, kicked off his tour from New Orleans to Philadelphia with Miracle Flights and Southwest Airlines to receive medical consultation for his rare form of dwarfism.
Levi has a condition that prevents his bones from strengthening enough to support his weight as he grows, but from his zest for life you would have no idea. As one of only 22 confirmed cases in the world, Levi and his mother travel throughout the country for medical monitoring and treatment. This constant travel can really take a toll on families like Levi’s, but luckily through Southwest Airlines’ Medical Transportation Grant Program and partners like Miracle Flights, the financial burden of traveling great distances to receive medical treatment is considerably eased.
Miracle Flights has participated in Southwest’s Medical Transportation Grant Program since its inception in 2007, but worked with Southwest long before the program began. In fact, Miracle Flights has provided complimentary commercial air travel to seriously ill patients so they can visit specialists and receive treatment throughout the country since 1985. Levi’s flight was selected to be the 100,000 th Miracle flight and, as their longtime partner, Southwest was especially excited to participate in making his trip extra special in honor of his spirit and this incredible milestone.
Arriving at the gate in a pilot’s uniform, Levi was treated like the rock star he is as he kicked off his “tour.” Celebration participants wore customized shirts titled, “Little Levi and the 100,000 Miracles.” At the gate in New Orleans, Levi was given the VIP treatment featuring a live band, treats for the passengers, a red carpet, posters and tour memorabilia. Additionally, the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport said farewell to Levi with a water cannon salute as the aircraft left the gate. A very special thank you to our amazing Employees in MSY and Customers for making this event one to remember!
Since the Southwest Airlines Medical Transportation Grant Program’s inception in 2007, more than $19.6 million in complimentary air travel has been distributed to organizations in 26 states. In 2016, Southwest will provide more than $3.2 million in free transportation to caregivers and patients seeking medical treatment. A full list of participating nonprofit hospitals and medical transportation organizations can be found at www.southwest.com/medicalgrant.
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Here at Southwest Airlines we have one mission: a dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered through a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride and Company spirit. Being the dedicated airline we are, when Alma Frances Harris reached out to us to make her brother’s birthday a little more special, we knew we had to rise to the occasion.
Alma’s brother is Lt. Col. George E. Hardy, and he wasn’t just celebrating any ordinary birthday. He was turning 91 years old! Aside from the fact that we wanted to help him celebrate this amazing milestone, we also wanted to recognize that Lt. Col. Hardy is a Tuskegee Airmen veteran, and was one of the first African-American military aviators in the United States Armed Forces to serve during World War II. Southwest Airlines is not only dedicated to our Customers, but also to our armed forces. When we learned Lt. Col. Hardy’s story, we knew we needed to make this birthday one to remember. Our Team immediately went to work.
As Lt. Col. Hardy and Alma arrived to Philadelphia International Airport to catch their flight to Tampa on June 6, our Team greeted them with decorations and cake to commemorate this amazing man reaching a significant milestone in his life. Philadelphia Customer Service Agents made Lt. Col. Hardy feel special and thanked him for his service to our country. Upon boarding the plane, the celebration continued as the Flight Attendants and passengers wished a “Happy Birthday” to Lt. Col. Hardy.
We hope that we were able to make Lt. Col. Hardy’s 91 st birthday a memorable one! To learn more about Lt. Col. George E. Hardy and the Tuskegee Airmen visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OvW_dHS_-W0.
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