6 February 2014
The Kilimanjaro Warriors had several early obstacles to overcome as we began our journey. Unfortunately a snowstorm hit the DFW area the day before everyone’s scheduled arrival.
The first obstacle involved Steve Martin’s flight from Phoenix….it was cancelled! Luckily through our great American Airlines representative, Toni Russell, the AA Veterans Initiative Program was on top of it. She was able to rebook Steve on AA’s new partner USAir. Steve made it to DFW only three hours after his original flight was scheduled to land.
The bad weather slowed things down from every direction. The six members of our expedition traveling out of San Antonio also experienced an hour delay in their arrival.
Kisha, who was driving from Oklahoma to DFW, encountered some unfavorable challenges, too. The weather was worse to the north where she was and that made for some difficult and slow driving conditions. Unfortunately the weather was the least of her problems. As she was preparing to load her truck, she had difficulty finding a close parking space at her complex. Because she had some heavy bags to load into her truck, she made a spot of her own near her door. While she was preparing her bags, her apartment complex had a different idea. They sent a tow truck over and hauled her truck away. Two hours and $200 later, she finally got her truck back and loaded, and was able to start the icy drive to DFW. She made it safely and ended up getting to the DFW Westin, just as the others were arriving.
The DFW Westin was very generous and provided us with rooms for the evening and catered a nice dinner for our team! The dinner was hosted by members of the Air Power Foundation and representatives of Skyball, who were major sponsors for our journey. They showed us some motivational videos, which really got us pumped up for our expedition. The highlight of the evening was a powerful and emotional speech by Alan Rose, who happened to be at the Westin, just traveling through DFW with his wife. He is a retired Air Force fighter pilot and Vietnam veteran. His jet was shot down over enemy territory and he was a prisoner of war for nine months. The AA Veterans Initiative Team recently hosted Alan and some other Vietnam POWs at a ceremony in the DFW area. As Alan was walking through the hotel lobby he recognized Jim Palmersheim, the Director for the AA Veterans Initiative Program, and they stopped to talk to each other. Jim then invited Alan to join us for our dinner and he offered to speak to our group. Again, it was a very heartwarming and motivational experience to hear Alan speak and provide us with encouragement. He and our veterans have sacrificed so much for our country and truly know the meaning serving our country.
7 February 2014
Today we woke up to cold conditions but all arrived to DFW in time for our 7:00 a.m. American Airlines flight to New York. We even bumped into Alan and his wife at the airport and he gave us some last minute words of encouragement. We were treated to a great send off at our gate, again hosted by the AA Veterans Initiative Team and the DFW United Services Organization. We would like to thank them again for their gracious support!
Our flight to New York City was not very crowded, so most on the team “took off their legs” and caught some much-needed shut eye.
With the Statue of Liberty guiding our way, we landed safely at Laguardia. There we were met by a large crowd of AA employees and NYC Port Authority police men. They escorted us to the LGA Admirals Club while our bags were loaded into our limo. We were then given a police escort to JFK. What a great way to get around the Big Apple! We were treated to a relaxing layover at the Delta Sky Club before leaving JFK for Amsterdam, a seven hour flight.
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My brother and my sister Orlando and Maria Gill, are part of your team. And I just want to say to all of you guys and gals that you may have a safe and blessed trip. May you guys enjoy this once in a life time trip. Everyone will be in my prayers that everyone has safe trip. Can’t wait to read all about the journey 🙂 Love you Orlando and Maria. Xoxo.