Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Herb Kelleher donates van to Ronald McDonald House

On January 4 at Southwest Airlines headquarters, Herb Kelleher received a large gift in his honor that wasn’t a plane, but something with wheels — three vans that were purchased for Ronald McDonald Houses.

The Ronald McDonald House Charities has long been a focus for Herb Kelleher and Southwest Airlines. When Southwest pilots heard the Dallas House was in need of new transportation, Southwest Airlines Pilots’ Association (SWAPA) set up a donation for pilots to give in Herb’s honor and received $104,343.78 to go toward new transportation for Ronald McDonald Houses in Dallas, Las Vegas, and Central Florida in addition to cash donations to be delivered to RMH locations in the San Francisco area, Phoenix, Chicago, Baltimore and Houston.

Herb Kelleher said, "You really made it an emotional masterpiece when you conceived the idea of giving the vans and the monetary contributions to the Ronald McDonald Houses. Because as all of you know, for many decades they have been my favorite external charity.”Southwest Airlines Pilots’ Association President Steve Chase; Vera Bangs, Ronald McDonald House of Dallas Board Chairwoman; Herb Kelleher, founder of Southwest Airlines; Jill Cumnock, Ronald McDonald House of Dallas CEO

Ronald McDonald House of Dallas CEO Jill Cumnock thanked the Southwest Airlines pilots for contributing generously. "For our families who have children who are in wheelchairs, it's been a challenge for us getting them to and from hospitals. This handicap-accessible van is going to make their lives and our lives so much better. Those trips back and forth to the hospital are just going to be so much easier."

Also attending were Southwest Airlines’ CEO Gary Kelly and President Emeritus Colleen Barrett, Ronald McDonald House of Dallas Board Chairwoman Vera Bangs, along with many Southwest Airlines pilots and employees.

In 1985, Southwest Airlines took the Ronald McDonald House of Dallas under its wing and has contributed millions of dollars through its annual LUV Classic golf tournament. Employees have also contributed thousands of hours of service to cook meals, volunteer at The Trains at NorthPark and more.

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