Since being shot in the face by her father in 2013, Yesenia Parker has battled many challenges. Now 14 and paralyzed from the chest down, she continues to struggle with myriad health issues and sometimes has difficulty getting around in her wheelchair.
But, on Wednesday, when Yesenia was asked what she wanted for Christmas, the teen said that there was nothing on her list.
“I’m getting everything I asked for,” she told NJ.com.
That morning, Yesenia and 39 other children living with or recovering from serious illnesses took a flight to visit Santa at the North Pole. The so-called “fantasy flight” was hosted by volunteers from United Airlines.
The journey began early Wednesday morning at Newark Liberty International Airport, when the children boarded “North Pole 1” and took a one-hour flight (a real one!) to Santa’s hometown -- also known as Newark’s Gate C90, where the jolly old elf was waiting to greet them.
Onboard, flight attendants and paramedics transformed into singing elves and reindeer. You “couldn't tell who was having more fun, the kids or the United Airlines employees,” said WABC-TV of the festive experience.
Describing the cheery atmosphere of the event, NJ.com said that the “excitement was palpable, before, during and after the flight.”
“I'm going to tell people about Santa and everything,” gushed Mosai McDonald, an 8-year-old who has sickle cell anemia.
United has hosted several “fantasy flights” this month, including one that departed from Chicago O'Hare International Airport and another from San Francisco International Airport.
According to the Chicago Tribune, United has been offering special holiday flights for more than 30 years.