The Des Plaines Community Foundation supported United Airlines’ Fantasy Flight this past Christmas season. United Airlines and the Starlight Foundation gave ill Chicago-area children a Fantasy Flight to the North Pole to visit Santa Claus.
The “Chicago United Fantasy Flight” departed O’Hare International Airport at 11 a.m. on December 1, 2012. The Fantasy Flight was flown by professional United Airlines flight crews and flight attendants using an overnight aircraft.
Rosemary Argus was on that flight. Her boarding pass read: ‘United Airlines Fantasy Flight, Gate B5; Seat 9E; Destination: North Pole.
She was greeted by United employees singing Christmas carols. Fifty very ill children and their families were gathering at the gate to board the flight. Then they all boarded the airplane.
The Starlight Foundation supports families with life-threatening diseases. The families came from all over the Chicago area and are being treated at various Children’s Hospitals. Numerous volunteers helped out with their generous support of both time and money.
According to Argus, Chicago Firefighters and United employees wheeled many of the children on to the plane and lifted them into their seats. Cancer and burn victims walked on. Many of the children had never flown before.
“The Fantasy Flight plane took off,” Argus said. “We were flying to the North Pole to see Santa Claus. The children near the windows could see the buildings looking smaller and smaller and we then we were in the clouds.”
After flying over Lake Michigan and to downtown Chicago, it was time to land at the North Pole. “The children applauded when we landed,” Argus said. “The Chicago Fire Department gave the Fantasy Flight and the kids a water-cannon salute.”
After the flight everyone was greeted by hundreds of United employees dressed in red shirts, wearing Santa Claus hats or green elf hats, as well as Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus, the Gingerbread Man, Jack Frost and Frosty the Snowman. Mrs. Christmas Tree with lights and gift boxes for shoes, Toy Soldiers, Ballerinas surrounded the children.
The gate where the children landed was decorated with Christmas trees and poinsettias donated by the Foundation’s Board member Chris Pesche of Pesche Flowers. There was a Toy Store, a Candy Store, Pastry Store and a Mitten Shop where the children could choose whatever they wanted.
The store fronts were built and painted by volunteer students from the Building-Trade Department at Maine West High School. They were set up by Tim DeLong and Board trustee Bob Argus as well as Key club volunteers, including Sadie Argus. Gifts were
wrapped and given to the children to take home and put under the tree. Some wish lists included: Wiis, computers, cameras, games, etc.
Then, the group enjoyed a pre-Christmas turkey dinner served in Mrs. Claus’ kitchen. The Limelights Singers from the Metropolis were singing carols. The children had a great day, a day not to think about doctors and hospitals. “The children seemed tired but were filled with all the love and care from so many volunteers on the Fantasy Flight,” said Argus.
“I was humbled to be able to share the day with the children and their families and to fly on the Fantasy Flight. The Fantasy Flight puts our lives in perspective. It is a Christmas memory to treasure.”