Every Christmas for 31 years now, children with severe and terminal illnesses have taken off on a Fantasy Flight for the destination every child wants to see around Christmas time: The North Pole.
At the end of the Detroit Metro Airport runway, Santa awaits at his headquarters with open arms and a sack full of presents and goodies. And, at least for a night, Christmas is a little brighter.
Nearly 70 children from six Detroit-area hospitals boarded a Delta jet Friday at the Detroit airport and took off on their “supersonic” flight to a place where dreams come true. Making dreams come true is just what members of the Motown Silver Liners, a group made up of retired airline employees, aim to do every year.
RS&H is one of many organizations that donate to the Fantasy Flight program to help make the annual event possible. This year, RS&H contributed $2,722 to the Detroit event.
“This is such a special event and cause,” said RS&H Senior Construction Aviation Field Representative Steve Howe, who organizes RS&H’s efforts with the Silver Liners. “Being involved and seeing the smiles on these kids’ faces really remind you of the spirit of the holidays.”
While never actually taking off, the flight experience is as real as it gets – children even go through a regular security checkpoint at the airport. With every window shade closed on board, the Delta jet screams down the runway with engines at full roar. Those engines stay on even as the plane comes to a stop.
Inside, the children have lunch with elves, clowns and other costumed characters as the pilot narrates the journey along the way. Once they arrive, the children walk off the plane and into a castle that looks like it could be straight out of a Disney movie. Each child gets a chance to talk with Santa and leaves with a bag full of gifts to take home.
And that experience is a gift in itself for all involved.
“To see children who are going through so much have a big smile on their faces, that’s what it’s all about,” Howe said. “We’re so happy to be a part of making some Christmas dreams come true.”