United Airlines Fantasy Flight flies children of Guam to the North Pole
GUAM – It’s the most wonderful time of the year and United Airlines continued its annual Fantasy Flight tradition, and gifted smiles and memories to children with disabilities. The direct service flew children from Parents Empowering Parents of Children with Disabilities, Inc. (PEP) and Guam Department of Education, Division of Special Education (SPED) from the Guam hub to the North Pole on Thursday, December 15, 2016.
After checking in, the children, along with their families/guardians, boarded the Boeing 737-800 aircraft and excitedly waited for their departure. At 5:15 p.m., flight UA 2126 pushed back from its gate and began the direct service to the North Pole. In preparation for takeoff, the United flight crew spread festive cheer by handing out specially customized Christmas stockings that included the United Ben Flyin’ bear to each child. Once the children arrived at the North Pole where they were merrily greeted by United employees and volunteers dressed in Christmas costumes along with the University of Guam Chorale.
“This year marks the third annual Fantasy Flight to the North Pole, and United is humbled to bring Christmas love and joy to the children from PEP and SPED. This event is one of my favorite events of the year because it brings the United Guam family together for a special cause. I’d like to thank all of our United employees who volunteered their time and resources to provide these children with an extra special night full of holiday festivities,” said Sam Shinohara, Managing Director. “The memories made tonight are priceless and you can see it on their faces.”
Over 90 attendees were treated to a number of Christmas workshops and activity stations that included Home Depot ornament making, cookie decorating, balloon art and face painting. A special meet-and-greet complete with photo opportunities with Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus proved to be one of the favorite activities amongst the special guests. A photo booth was provided where families were able to take keepsake photos with their loved ones. At the end of the winter wonderland evening, the children and their families re-boarded the plane and flew back to Guam where there was one last surprise waiting for them at the baggage claim carousel – presents containing items they wished for on their list to Santa Claus.
Parents Empowering Parents of Children with Disabilities, Inc. (PEP)
PEP, a non-profit organization run by parents for parents with children with disabilities, focuses on training, advocacy and support for the children as well as their family and support systems. PEP is a disabilities center that helps children with disabilities feel more accepted into the community. This three year old organization offers parent training, support activities, advocacy services, services for youth with disabilities, and professional training.
Guam Department of Education, Division of Special Education (SPED)
SPED commits to ensuring that all children with disabilities are given the opportunity to a free and appropriate public education specially designed to meet unique needs. SPED also provides educators and parents the necessary tools to improve the quality of services to students with disabilities.
Fantasy Flight 26-year tradition
For 26 years, United Airlines has hosted Fantasy Flights at major hubs around the globe. The Guam hub, celebrating its third year, is one of 11 hubs to offer the exclusive Fantasy Flight in 2016. Fantasy Flight is completely volunteer-driven. Locally, 120 employees and volunteers worked cheerfully to organize the event, raise money for gifts, solicit donations and design a holiday experience for the children. More than 1,500 employees worldwide volunteer annually at other major hubs such as Cleveland, Houston, Denver, Los Angeles, Newark, N.J., San Francisco and Washington, D.C., Boise, ID., Phoenix, San Antonio, Texas, and Sydney.
Community Partners Help Stuff Stockings
The “North Pole” featured holiday treats and activities that were made possible by the sponsors such as Asia Pacific Airlines, Bank of Guam, POI Aviation, Cape Air, Docomo Pacific, Triple J Enterprises and First Hawaiian Bank. Special thanks to the A.B. Won Pat International Airport Authority, Guam , Advance Management Inc., Ambros, Archway, Black Tie, Chamorri Crossfit, Chief Appraisals, Coast360 Federal Credit Union, Crown Bakery, Crust Pizzeria, Cup & Saucer, Cybertec Holdings, Fizz & Co., Guam Premier Outlets, Happy Faces by Nicki, Home Depot, IT&E, Jelyssa Tiong, J's Jumpers, Lotte Duty Free (Airport), LSG Sky Chefs, Micronesian Brokers, Inc., National Office Supply, Pacific Island Månnge Pop, Pacific Islands Club, Pacific Star, Pay-Less Supermarkets, Inc., RendezVooth, Rochell's Animal Balloons, South Pacific Petroleum Corporation, T Galleria by DFS, Tupperware, University of Guam Chorale, Unlimited Services Group, United Employee Association of Guam and the United Hong Kong Sales Team.
Each Fantasy Flight passenger received Christmas gifts made possible through toy drive donations by United co-workers and sponsors. The children picked up their special presents from Santa at the baggage carousel upon their arrival to Guam.
“Our employee work group organized this event, but we couldn’t spread the Christmas cheer without the help of our sponsors. On behalf of United, I would like to thank the all the sponsors who bigheartedly partnered with us to bring Santa and the North Pole to our island in the Pacific,” said Shinohara. “United, Guam’s hometown airline, is proud to give back to the community and with help from community partners, we hope to continue this holiday tradition of bringing the magic of Christmas to Guam.”
United Airlines Employees Association of Guam would like to thank its Fantasy Flight community volunteers and partners whose continued support has made the event a success for the children.