GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Make-A-Wish Michigan sent a little boy and his family to Disney World Monday.
However, the moment the 5-year-old was most excited for came well before the plane touched down. SJ Awwad said he wanted to help the flight attendants pass out snacks and drinks on his way to Orlando, so Make-A-Wish Michigan and Allegiant Airlines made it happen.
The Awwad family received a surprise greeting at Gerald R. Ford International Airport complete with colorful signs, volunteers and lots of cheering.
Danielle Awwad, SJ’s mom told WXMI, “He was really excited and it’s just been a whirlwind since we’ve been here.”
SJ was born with 10 different congenital heart defects and his organs are flipped backward inside his body. That means the little boy who’s already had multiple surgeries will one day need a heart transplant.
“When we were pregnant with him, they told us to not expect to bring a baby home,” said Danielle Awwad.
This trip was even more memorable because SJ is celebrating his sixth birthday in a couple days. Even with the big day on the horizon, he just wanted to help others.
“Part of his wish was to pass out drinks and snacks on the plane,” Danielle Awwad said.
SJ’s Make-a-Wish volunteer, Colleen LaRose, said passing out snacks was the top priority on this trip, so she worked with Allegiant Airlines to take his wish one step further.
The flight crew presented SJ with his own Allegiant Air uniform and name tag, so he’d look the part too.
“To me, that just made me so happy, because it’s the something a 5-year-old would wish for,” Danielle Awwad said.
Andrew Porrello, corporate communications specialist with Allegiant Air said, they were happy to be a part of SJ’s wish.
“That was the first time we’d ever heard of that one, he said. “So we were like, ‘This is gonna happen, we are gonna make this happen for sure,’ because usually we are just the vessel from point A to point B.”
Allegiant’s newest flight attendant is now ready to make sure his family gets the VIP treatment, on a trip they all really need.
“This whole experience has just been a beautiful distraction from our reality, because it has, its distracted us and given the opportunity to think about fun things, and exciting things instead of appointments and when the next ball is gonna drop, when’s the next procedure, when’s the next surgery,” Danielle Awwad said.
The family will be in Disney World for about a week.
Make-a-Wish Michigan operates entirely on donations, so if you’re curious about how to make wishes like SJ’s happen, visit their website.