Schneider’s kids ‘fly’ to North Pole

Young patients from Schneider Children’s Hospital went on a special trip Saturday, December 5 when they boarded a “fantasy flight” to the North Pole.
About 60 patients, joined by parents and siblings, went to LaGuardia Airport, where they boarded a U.S. Air Shuttle. After a simulated flight, the children were taken to a decorated part of the airport where they were greeted by Santa and Mrs. Claus.
“It’s such a great opportunity for U.S. Air to participate in the community and give back to the community,” said Suzanne Boda, the Senior Vice President East Coast International & Cargo Operations.
The program first started in 1981. Boda said that the airline employees enjoy participating in the event so much that even after some have transferred to another area to work, they still come back to LaGuardia to volunteer for the fantasy flight.
Richard Galante, a social worker with North Shore-LIJ in the Division of Pediatric Hematology, said that the fantasy flight is a great present for the children and their families. He said that, along with it giving the children a chance to feel a part of the community, they are also able to “feel the love and joy of the holiday.”
“They see that they’re loved,” Galante said.
Carolyn Rochel said it took three years before her daughter Caitlyn was well enough to come to the fantasy flight, which she said they had heard a lot about beforehand. She surprised 5-year-old Caitlyn the morning of the flight that she was going.
Rochel described the event as “amazing.” Caitlyn said being on the plane was fun and that it was her favorite activity of the Christmas Season.
This was also the first time that Suffolk County resident Scott Capone came with his 9-year-old daughter Haile.
“She’s so into Christmas it’s unbelievable,” Capone said while talking about how excited she was to attend the event. He also said, “This is God’s work [that’s] being done here.”
Haile said that her favorite part of the day was walking through the balloon entrance after getting off the plane and being greeted by Santa. She also said that her message to the people who put together the event would be, “Thank you so much. This is unbelievable. This is so cool.”

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