Our story first began nearly four years ago when I found out that I was pregnant. When I was five months along, we were told that our unborn son, Winston, had a tumor. Upon Winston’s birth, the doctors told us that Winston’s condition was much more serious than just a tumor; Winston was diagnosed with a mixed Lymphatic & Venous Malformation. At that point, our world spun out of control. For the past three years since Winston was born, our life has revolved around our son having a trachea, a feeding tube. One day, Winston unexpectedly stopped breathing, and my husband had to resuscitate him before paramedics arrived. It was then that we realized we needed more help, and could no longer do it all on our own. And so we began regularly traveling to New York City from our home in Missouri to see the best doctors in the world for Winston's malformation. Winston’s health has not been our only struggle recently. On top of everything else, we ended up losing our house and car, and not to mention, we are currently going through bankruptcy. While the past few years have proved some of the most challenging in my life, Southwest Airlines Medical Transportation Grant Program has provided hope and relief. It is because of help from Southwest Airlines and Miracle Flights for Kids (one of the organization recipients of Southwest’s grant program) that we are able to continue our fight for Winston. Southwest Airlines’ Medical Transportation Grant Program allows us to continue traveling on Southwest to New York to meet with Winston’s doctors at no cost to us. As if free travel isn’t enough, we always have an amazing flying experience with Southwest. Winston travels with an O2 Concentrator, pulse oximeter machine, feeding pump, and suction machine, so our seat area becomes a mini-hospital room. When I am traveling with Winston, Southwest Employees make the journey hassle-free. I am proud to report that after 13 visits to New York City, Winston's trachea was finally removed. For the first time in three years, we are finally able to breathe a sigh of relief (quite literally). Winston will still need continual maintenance throughout his life because his condition is incurable, but his treatments will become less frequent. I know our ending will eventually be a happy one as we learn to redefine what success for our family means and how we now find ways to see the light and embrace gratefulness throughout our medical adventures. I must say, it is very easy to pick a paint color now that I have faced real life and death decisions! And, I am looking forward to the day when our flights on Southwest will simply mean a well-deserved vacation! Thank you for helping us through this part of our journey. Not only are you helping my family, but you are helping so many others like us with the Medical Transportation Grant Program. You are making one part of our journey less difficult and, as I found, with a hug along the way to keep our spirits flying high. Over the past five years, Southwest has been humbled to lessen the burden of travel expenses for nearly 20,000 families who are facing serious illness. In 2012, Southwest provided more than $2.4 million in free transportation through our Medical Transportation Grant Program to hospitals and organizations nationwide. Learn more about this amazing program and how nonprofits can apply to participate: http://social.southwest.com/Wym.
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