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Making a Difference in the Lives of Families Facing Serious Illness One Ticket At A Time

Adventurer B
What does a patient do when they need specialized treatment at a hospital that is thousands of miles away from home? Often these patients are forced to travel for treatment without their families or caregivers, and the travel expense can too often be prohibitive. That’s where the LUV airline has the opportunity to step in.  Southwest’s Medical Transportation Grant Program seeks to lessen this burden by providing complimentary, roundtrip airline tickets to hospitals and medical organizations that then provide the tickets to patients and their caregivers who must travel for treatment.

Now in its fifth year, the program has quadrupled the number of participating hospitals since its inception and has provided more than 70 hospitals and organizations in 26 states with more than 18,800 tickets. This year, the Southwest Medical Transportation Grant Program will provide more than $2.4 million in free transportation to patients seeking medical treatment. To see a full list of recipients, please visit:

Recently, Southwest Employees rolled up their sleeves alongside special members of the community to participate in a hands-on (and, I literally mean hands-on!) display of how we LUV making a difference. In honor of Southwest’s Medical Transportation Grant Program, Robert Fogarty of the Dear World photography project, photographed Employees and special members of the community with impactful messages written directly on their bodies. The Dear World project allows its subjects to speak simply and profoundly through photos.  
Dusty Johnson
Dusty Johnson, Southwest Employee, is a three-time cancer survivor.
Corbin Best
Korban Best, a patient from grant recipient Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children, shows his confidence and perpetual spirit with the message, “I’m cool.”  And, his parents share that normal is different for all of us.


Don Virostek, Director of Orthotics at Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children, reminds the world that he has no limits.

Todd Painter
Todd Painter, Southwest Employee shares his medical miracle with the message, “Liver Recipient.”
To see all of the Dear World photographs, please visit

[PHOTO SHARE ALERT] Now, it’s your turn.  You’ve seen what making a difference means to Southwest, but what does it mean to you?  Let these photos be your inspiration, and we encourage you to share in your words (literally on your hands or arms!) how you make a difference and give back in your community.  We’re asking you to take a photo, tweet to @SouthwestAir, and include the hashtag #giveback no later than Tuesday, March 13.  We’ll pick our top five favorites and share them on the NUTS About Southwest blog on Thursday, March 15.  
Nathan Tyson
Nathan Tyson, Southwest Employee 
At Southwest Airlines, it’s important for us to give back, and we couldn’t be more proud to have the opportunity to not only keep growing this program, but to have the chance to make a difference and provide travel assistance during such a tough time for families.  In the last five years since the program began, you can imagine the stories we’ve been blessed to hear about and the connections we’ve made with folks along the way. 

Here are just a few sound bites that we’ve heard along the way from caregivers of patients and hospitals who have benefitted from the grant program.

“We are so thankful and blessed that your organization helped our family along with so many others. I pray that others can learn about this so they can help a child receive needed treatments.” – Caregiver

“We just want to say thank you for all that your charity has done for our family. We would not have been able to afford these trips to Boston so that he can get his medical treatments without your help.”- Caregiver

“All recipients of Southwest Airlines’ generosity greatly benefited from being close to family members or friends, which accelerated their emotional and physical healing.  We offer our profound thanks to Southwest for helping Barnes-Jewish Hospital provide truly exceptional care to patients with limited financial resources.” - Lisa Peckler, a Social Worker at the Foundation for Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis, MO.

Making a difference and giving back is part of what we do here at Southwest—I can’t wait to see what you do!