On May 7, 2016 Allegiant hosted a Wings for Autism event along with our friends at the Lehigh Valley International Airport (ABE). The event provides an opportunity for children with intellectual and developmental disabilities to practice and get familiar with air travel. The participants and their families do everything they would do on the day of a flight: arrive at the airport, check in at the ticket counter, go through the security checkpoint, board the plane and buckle up for the safety briefing from flight attendants. The only difference is, the plane doesn’t move anywhere. The process of familiarization helps children on the autism spectrum feel more comfortable during the “real thing.”
At the end of the event, each participant “earned their wings” and was surprised with two round trip tickets to fly anywhere in the Allegiant network from ABE, as part of Million Dollar Summer! Check out this story from the mom of one of the participants:
“We just booked our first flight with Grace – we’re going to Disney World on Allegiant Air from Lehigh Valley International Airport this December 10 – 17, and it’s a dream come true,” said Lisa Kulp, Grace’s mom. “After our experience with the Wings for Autism program this past May, Grace is no longer afraid of airplanes or airports. In fact, after we received the incredible gift of airline tickets from Allegiant Air, Grace and I began to talk about our first trip together, we practiced packing our suitcases for this trip, and consider all of the wonderful new things we will now experience together. There are still times when Grace gets a bit nervous and overwhelmed when we talk about our plans, but all we have to do is put on our Wings for Autism t-shirts, and she calms right back down and gets excited again about the trip ahead. The Wings for Autism program, The Arc, Lehigh Valley International Airport, and Allegiant Air and the incredibly generous gift of airline tickets to all of the local families who participated in the Wings for Autism event on May 9, enabling us all to not only go through the flight rehearsal event in a busy airport and on a commercial aircraft, but also providing us all with the airfare for our first trip – this was a life-changing experience for Grace and our family.”
You can find out more about the Wings for Autism program and keep an eye out for future events here.