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Southwest “luvs” on Families Facing Terminal Illness

Inheritance of Hope (IoH) is a non-profit organization that inspires hope in young families facing the loss of a parent. Through all-expenses-paid Legacy RetreatsⓇ, parents who have been diagnosed with a life-threatening illness, along with their caregiver and children, are given the opportunity to make precious memories, receive tools for navigating this difficult time in their lives, and meet others with the same fears and challenges. IoH will host retreats in Orlando, California, Colorado, and New York throughout 2018.

 

For almost every family Inheritance of Hope serves, the Legacy RetreatⓇ starts at the airport. Some of these families have children who have never flown, and some have parents who wondered how they would ever fly again. While the individual stories change, these families are all traveling at very vulnerable times in their lives, with health considerations that extend far beyond the needs of an average traveler.

 

It is only because of the persistence and compassion of our retreat team, and its corporate relationships, that our diverse retreat participants arrive ready for the life-changing experience that awaits them. Many IoH families fly Southwest Airlines to our retreats, and through our relationship, IoH has found a friend with heart.

 

Southwest employees celebrate our Inheritance of Hope families as they travel to their Legacy Retreat.
Southwest employees celebrate our Inheritance of Hope families as they travel to their Legacy Retreat.

 

Southwest’s easily-recognizable heart logo is more than just a design. It represents the company’s culture and dedication to connecting people to what is important in their lives.

 

Southwest Airlines pilots make the trip special for Inheritance of Hope families.
Southwest employees celebrate our Inheritance of Hope families as they travel to their Legacy Retreat.

 

The relationship between IoH and Southwest began years ago when IoH Co-Founders Deric and Kristen Milligan met Debbie Wafford, a member of the Community Outreach Team. “I was very fortunate to meet Deric and his late wife, Kristen, when IoH was in its early stages,” Debbie shared, “and I’m amazed (but not surprised) by how much it has grown over the past 10 years! I look forward to seeing it continue to thrive as it supports so many sweet families in need.”

 

At the close of 2017, Southwest donated round-trip tickets to IoH for families travelling to a Legacy RetreatⓇ in 2018. What this means is that IoH Coordinators, who plan the travel logistics for each retreat participant, can choose the best possible flights for families--eliminating multiple layovers and long travel days for those retreat participants for whom traveling is the most difficult. This allows the organization to maintain a high standard of financial stewardship while simultaneously easing the burden of travelling on the most fragile families.

 

Southwest Airline inspires hope!
Southwest Airline inspires hope!

 

According to IoH Co-Founder & CEO, Deric Milligan, “This gift represents much more than just its financial value. These flights allow our Coordinators to take the best possible care of each family—choosing a flight where they know, without a doubt, that the family will be well cared for. Flying Southwest is always a wonderful experience. They go above and beyond to care for our families, which is also what we’re all about.”

 

This was especially true for two March 2018 Legacy RetreatⓇ families. Jenny and Matthew Mosier decided to keep their Orlando vacation a secret from their children Zi, age 17, Luke 14, and Abbie, 12. Jenny had planned the surprise perfectly—she packed the kids’ suitcases surreptitiously, and after finishing chemo the afternoon of their flight, loaded the car with the help of a friend.

 

When they arrived at the airport, however, Abbie, a first-time flyer, burst into tears, crying, “This is not a good surprise!” Meanwhile, an ecstatic Luke could hardly contain his excitement.

 

The challenges of navigating the airport with an anxious child took a toll on Jenny. “By the time we reached the gate,” she said, “Abbie was sobbing, and I am thinking I am not cut out for this!”

 

As soon as the Mosiers boarded the plane, Southwest’s team of flight attendants took over—engaging Abbie, and even presenting her with a certificate upon completion of her first flight. The family was even announced as special guests over the intercom, to which Abbie grinned, turned to Jenny and exclaimed, “Mom, I’m famous!” After the flight, the Mosiers had a special visit and photo session in the cockpit.

 

Abbie shows off her certificate!
Abbie shows off her certificate!

 

The weekend was full of firsts for the Mosier children. As memorable as the highlights in the theme parks will always be, Zi, Luke, and especially Abbie took home the confidence that they can do hard things. A few days after the retreat, she told Jenny, “Mommy, you are going to kill me for saying this, but I really want to go on an airplane again.” Read more about how Southwest “luved” on the Mosier family >>

 

Abbie and Luke with their caring Southwest crew.
Abbie and Luke with their caring Southwest crew.

 

The Linden family from North Carolina attended the same retreat as the Mosiers, and had an equally special experience on their Southwest flight to Orlando. Kids Connor, age 14, Lilly, 10, and JP, 5, were invited to welcome passengers onboard the plane, and received what mom Ashley described as “the royal treatment!”

 

The Linden family enjoying the opportunity to see the cockpit.
The Linden family enjoying the opportunity to see the cockpit.

 

Ashley elaborated on the impact and importance of the entire weekend: “Our trip through IoH was nothing less than awe-inspiring. My children received courage and hope that we needed, and because of that I will be forever grateful. It was one of the biggest blessings my family has ever received. The bonds we immediately formed with people who walk the same path will be forever. From the staff at Southwest to each and every person behind the scenes, I would like to say thank you for helping my legacy continue.”

 

Thank You Southwest

 

IoH is immensely grateful to Southwest for helping us start the Legacy RetreatⓇ experience off so memorably for so many families facing terminal illness. Southwest, the “luv” you show inspires hope in us!

 

Thank You Southwest!

 

Angie Howell graduated from Davidson College, where she met Inheritance of Hope Co-Founder Kristen Grady Milligan the first week of their freshman year. In 2010, the two former hallmates got back in touch, and Angie became involved in IoH shortly afterwards. Angie has has served as a Legacy Retreat volunteer, Coordinator, and now, as Communications Manager, Angie helps tell the stories of IoH. She is constantly inspired by the people she meets in the IoH family. Read more Inheritance of Hope blogposts >>

 

 

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