At Southwest Airlines, giving from the heart is in our DNA. Our People are what make this Company so great. This November, Southwest Airlines and Ronald McDonald House Charities partnered in honor of their 40th anniversary to recognize three long-time Southwest Airlines Employee volunteers at their work places as a thank you for their dedication.One of these Employees, Baltimore Line Mechanic Randy Ward, was one of our Employees chosen and had no idea! Here is his story.
A few years ago, when my Department decided to start volunteering at the Baltimore Ronald McDonald House (RMH), I was very excited. There always seems to be opportunities to give back by donating money, but this was a way to give back from the heart. After volunteering just once, I knew Ronald McDonald House was the place for me to make a difference. For four years now, when our different work groups in Baltimore volunteer at RMH, they have given me a call. I’m happy to help at dinners and other events, and not only with cooking! I bring a unique skill set to the Baltimore house—balloon art!
I guess you could say I’ve been making balloon animals for a while—I lost count after 20 years! My uncle was a clown growing up, so I’d venture to say that I had the basics of balloon art down by the time I was 9 or 10 years old. Since then, making balloon animals has been “my thing.” I figured that was the perfect way to bring a little excitement to the Baltimore house, and the kids love it!
For a while, my Manager and his family had to stay at the Baltimore house. To hear him talk about the atmosphere in the house when “the balloon guy” came to pay a visit meant the world to me. Families would come in somber and exhausted from a day at the hospital but perk right up and laugh at the silly animals and hats. If you pay attention, you’ll see that it’s the littlest things that make the biggest difference in someone’s day. To see those kids smiling was all the motivation I could need to come back.
Maybe that’s why I was so surprised by the Random Act of Ronald! I guess I’m a little naive, because even when I heard buzz about Ronald McDonald being in the airport, I was clueless! “Oh, must be an event to raise money for the charity,” I thought to myself. If you watch the video, you’ll see my surprise when I was called to the gate to “help” and was actually honored!