Southwest Airlines Helps Special Needs Teen Celebrate Her 18th Birthday
By Alexa Renee
A Roseville teen celebrated a milestone birthday in high fashion, with a little help from Southwest Airlines.
Kellisa Kain spent an entire day flying around the country with her family to celebrate her 18th birthday. Kellisa’s father, Chris Kain, is a frequent flyer with Southwest and decided to plan a special day for his daughter, who loves to travel, according to Kellisa’s blog.
Kellisa and her twin had Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome (TTTS), a disease which affects identical twins who share a placenta, where one twin is taking more than their share of nutrients and the other is unable to develop or survive.
Kellisa’s twin sister, Kirsten, died shortly after being delivered. Kellisa was given only hours to live but against all odds, was able to celebrate her 18th birthday on May 23. Today, she lives with cerebral palsy and epilepsy, but that doesn’t keep her from enjoying life.
Chris linked up with the airline company to plan Kellisa’s birthday travels. The day included eight stops, since her favorite part of plane rides is take-off and landing. During each flight, Kellisa was greeted by Southwest staff and passengers who all pitched in to take selfies with her and sing her “Happy Birthday.” The teen also received high-fives, cards and gifts.
Much to the family’s surprise, during a stop in Orlando, the family was escorted off the plane by a man wearing a tuxedo and were greeted with a fully decorated gate area filled with cheering travelers, according to Kellisa’s blog.
They boarded the plane to find a decorated area, and saw people holding birthday signs on the runway as they made their way back home to the Sacramento International Airport.
The family landed, literally running to a finish line, for the last flight of the day. Lisa, Kellisa’s mother, expressed the significance of her daughter’s milestone birthday in a blog post:
“Eighteen years is a very big deal for her and for us especially considering she is the only one of our natural children that has celebrated a birthday. In general, we keep a pretty positive outlook, but it can be difficult. Over the last 5 years, we have lost 5 of Kellisa’s friends to their disabilities including 1 that passed earlier this month. So we do get a bit emotional and over the top with Kellisa’s birthday because it is a reminder of how lucky we are to have her in our lives.”