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“Ho, Ho, Ho.” Next stop, the North Pole Page Hero Image

“Ho, Ho, Ho.” Next stop, the North Pole

“Ho, Ho, Ho.” Next stop, the North Pole

December 14, 2017

“North Pole Express” Charity Flight departs with brave passengers aboard

Tis’ the season to believe. Tis’ the season to hope.

With snowfall creating a perfect backdrop at Lehigh Valley International Airport (ABE), 20 families impacted by cancer boarded a United Express Charity Flight for the most popular flight destination every holiday season, the North Pole.

“It was hard to imagine what was going to happen, and there were lots of questions about meeting Santa Claus,” said Lisa Kappes, Director of Programming, Pediatric Cancer Foundation of the Lehigh Valley.

These special passengers were issued a boarding pass and processed through the TSA checkpoint, before departing on their quick flight to the North Pole.

“Staff and volunteers are excited about this event each year and their chance to provide a joyous holiday for children who have endured so much adversity in their lives,” said Thomas R. Stoudt, Interim Executive Director, Lehigh-Northampton Airport Authority.

Diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, Reilly Shimko is nearly finished with chemo-therapy. Yet, the past couple of months presented challenges, including a hospital stay in every month since September.

“This is really an experience we will remember forever, and the generosity we have received has been overwhelming,” said Natasha Shimko, Reilly’s mother.

Battling Stage 4 Neuroblastoma, Emmitt Spearman completed treatment, but a relapse on December 22, 2016, has led to another fight with cancer. For his family, the holiday season has lacked the feeling of joy in recent years.

“This North Pole flight is turning things around and helping us believe that things will get better in the end,” said Carissa Young, Emmitt’s mother.

Santa Claus, Mrs. Claus and the elves anxiously awaited the arrival of their honorary guests, having prepared a holiday celebration filled with food, face painting, and presents.

“It’s a magical day for everyone, and the perfect way to kick off the Christmas season,” said Kappes.

This event was coordinated through a partnership between Lehigh-Northampton Airport Authority, United / United Express and the Pediatric Cancer Foundation of the Lehigh Valley.

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