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As all parents know, traveling with children has its challenges--and little things can make or break the entire experience for not just the family but the entire plane-full of passengers.
That's why when Erica Swart was flying with her three children on a Southwest Airlines flight from Orlando, FL, to Newark, N.J., she already had her guard up about potential problems. That's because her oldest daughter, 9-year-old Gabby, has type 1 diabetes, and flight-related jitters can affect her already delicate blood sugar levels. So while Erika sat with her two younger children across the aisle from Gabby, she made sure to reach out and hold her hand and to soothe her nervousness--but, not surprisingly, Gabby began to get very anxious.
"She was asking me questions, trying to hold my hand across the aisle, starting to bite her fingernails," Swart told TODAY.
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Luckily, a kind and helpful flight attendant, Jovan Riley (who goes by the nickname Garrick) paid special attention to her, telling her "'You did so good, I'm so proud of you!'" the mom said. He continued to check in with the little girl throughout the flight, keeping her distracted with chatter and smiles.
But that's when the bad weather hit. And as any flier knows--no matter what your age--turbulence and extreme weather conditions can rattle even the most experienced travelers. For little Gabby, it meant she began to have a full-blown panic attack.
What Garrick did next shocked this mother completely.
"He came over and said, 'Do you want me to sit next to you? Would that help?'" she said. The caring flight attendant then stopped whatever else he was supposed to doing and sat down with Gabby to keep her company, letting her hold onto his arm to keep her calm and fetching juice to keep her blood sugar steady. That's when mom Erica snapped a photo--and made a now-viral Facebook post on the airline's page.
"Once on the ground while taxiing to the gate he came on the intercom and announced that his friend, Gabby, in the front row overcame her fears of flying and asked for a round of applause. The whole plane clapped for her. It was a wonderful experience on Southwest. We are forever grateful to have met such a beautiful, selfless soul," said the mom.
We just love the kindness he displayed!
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