“We see so many children get on an airplane for their wishes. Just to know that we can spend 30 minutes with them and make them smile it means the world to me,” Mary Ann said.
Not only do DeLana and Mary Ann decorate the gates for each wish kid, they go the extra mile to make siblings, parents and even other passengers, feel included.
With the permission of the parents, DeLana and Mary Ann will announce the wish where the passengers will get involved and start clapping and cheering for the family.
“We’ve had many situations where passengers come up to talk with the family or express that they would like to get involved with Make-A-Wish Arizona.”
Since many wish families have not flown before, members of the airline will also make them feel more comfortable by giving them the total VIP treatment. DeLana and Mary Ann will often escort families all the way up to their gate and introduce them to the captain and first officer so they can see the cockpit.
“Traveling through the airport can be nerve-wracking for anyone, especially kids,” they shared. “Everything we do helps them take their mind off whatever is going on. They wish to go to the place they have always dreamed about and it’s great that we get to be a part of that.”
While DeLana and Mary Ann have met numerous wish families, some they will never forget.
“We met a little boy named Nikolas, who wished to meet the Pope, and he was so expressive that we fell in love immediately. He was a firecracker,” DeLana said.
“Last year, a wish kid was traveling to her wish to go on a Disney Cruise Line cruise, so we decorated the gate and some of us dressed up to welcome her,” she continued. “Her family couldn’t remember the last time she smiled until that day.”
Whatever the time of the flight, DeLana and Mary Ann bring their liveliness at all hours and their excitement is contagious.
“I just want that child to be a child. Let them smile, let them laugh, let them run. That’s what I want out of all of this,” DeLena said.
“It’s the excitement I see from a kid that makes it all worth it!” Mary Ann said.
Although their experience with wish families ends at the gate, DeLana’s and Mary Ann’s one true wish would be the chance to have more time with them.
“I’d love to travel with kids the whole way to their wish, to get to see their happiness first hand,” DeLana said.