GRAND RAPIDS, MI — Here’s a story that will make your heart melt.
Five-year-old Make-A-Wish kid Stephen ‘S.J.’ Awwad tacked on one tiny request to his dream trip to Disneyworld: to hand out snacks to his fellow passengers during the flight to Florida.
Allegiant was all too happy to oblige, gifting S.J. with a kid-sized version of the crew uniform (complete with orange tie, yellow shirt, blue sweater vest and a customized wings pin engraved with his nickname) and also naming him an honourary Allegiant flight attendant on his flight from Gerald R. Ford International Airport in Grand Rapids earlier this month.
During the flight, S.J. walked along the aisle of the aircraft with a flight attendant and handed out complimentary snack-packs of pretzels. Judging by the video, passengers were delighted with the onboard service.
“We just want to thank Allegiant, they’ve just been absolutely amazing in fulfilling this wish. This was such a big part of his wish,” said S.J.’s mom, Danielle Awwad. “I always tell my husband now, we’re totally flying Allegiant forever now after all of this! They’ve just really made him feel special and amazing, granting something that we would never have been able to give him.”
Since 2012 Allegiant has partnered with Make-A-Wish, helping to fulfill the wishes of more than 1,800 children. The airline is currently a Wish Champion, recognized for making $1 million in annual contributions. It is also the only domestic carrier to feature an aircraft with a Make-A-Wish themed livery.
S.J.’s ultimate wish was to spend a week with his family at Walt Disney World Resort. Handing out snacks during the flight was a “wish enhancement”, just a little extra something that Allegiant was thrilled to be part of, said Hilarie Grey, Allegiant’s managing director of corporate communications.
“Many of the kids we fly to their wish destinations are travelling to Florida,” Grey added, “but this is the first time a Wish kid has asked to serve snacks to passengers in flight. We found out from Make-A-Wish that S.J. loves anything to do with flying so we not only wanted to say ‘yes’, but aimed to make the experience extra special.”
The entire week was especially heartwarming for S.J.’s parents, who were told by doctors during Danielle’s pregnancy to not expect to bring a baby home.
“We’re just blessed to be able to spend a week enjoying each other and not stressing about everything. This whole experience has been such a beautiful distraction from our reality, and given us the opportunity to think about fun things and exciting things instead of appointments and when’s the next ball going to drop, when’s the next procedure, when’s the next surgery,” said Danielle. “The fact that he’s five, going to be six, and even here and alive and to be able to go on this trip is just so meaningful to us as a family. In the hardest moments you just don’t ever think that you’re going to get to this point, and we’re just so blessed that we are.”