On the morning of Thursday, Nov. 17, a private hangar at Love Field airport was abuzz with anticipation and excitement as nearly 50 families prepared for the trip of a lifetime. The annual Kidd's Kids trip to Disney World was about to begin, but first the families needed a grand sendoff.
Kidd's Kids, a program that raises money to make a difference in the lives of children with life-altering conditions, celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. To mark the occasion, 54 children and their families were chosen to go on a five-day, all-expenses-paid vacation to the happiest place on Earth.
Tylar Davie, a young girl from Euless, was one of the overjoyed children selected for the trip.
Duane Davie, a single father, promised Tylar from a young age that he would take her to Disney World when she turned 10 years old. Tylar celebrated her 10th birthday last Monday. With the help of Kidd's Kids, Duane kept his promise.
"I cried when I got the packet and they said that [we were chosen]," Davie said. "I haven't cried yet today, but it's coming!"
Excitement built as the families ate a catered breakfast, posed for pictures with the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders and mingled with members of the Kidd's Kids program. At a pre-set photobooth, Mickey Mouse ears and Disney character plush toys laid on a table as props.
Kedrin Harris, a spunky 7-year-old, grinned from ear to ear when he got his hands on a Goofy toy. When asked what he was most excited to do, Harris exclaimed, "I'm going on an airplane!"
Neither 7-year-old Kedrin Harris nor his father have ever left Dallas, so simply flying on a plane is set to be an adventure.
For Joseph Espinosa, another 7-year-old with boundless energy and an infectious smile, the flight couldn't start soon enough.
"I want to get on now," said 7-year-old Joseph Espinosa, beaming. "I can be the helper and drive the plane!"
Alex Espinosa, Joseph's father, could hardly contain his own excitement. "The happiness that I see in [Joseph's] eyes, that's all I need for a lifetime," he said. "That's what I'm looking forward to seeing — the little moments that you miss from them growing up. I will think about that forever, for as long as I live."
Jose "J-Si" Chavez, one of The Kidd Kraddick Morning Show's on-air personalities, is a father of two. For him, contributing to the Kidd's Kids program is a cherished opportunity to give back to families who have to fight through difficult times.
"Once you have kids and you realize how lucky you are to have a healthy child ... I can't even put into words to describe what an emotional and inspiring feeling it is," Chavez said. "The memories that this trip creates for those families that spend most of their time in the hospital ... It's a lifesaver to them. It truly is. When they go to the hospital, they [will] look back at the pictures and the videos and that's what gives them strength."
Duane Davie expressed another benefit of the trip: making kids with disabilities feel disability-free, even if just for a few days.
"These kids need the same things that regular kids have," Davie said. "By any means necessary, [Tylar's] going to be one of those regular kids. I'm not going to alienate her from doing anything."
Before jetting off for Orlando, each Kidd's Kid walked down a purple carpet with their families. The crowd cheered and waved pom-poms for each child's catwalk, and the joy in their faces was unparalleled.