United hosts extra special flight powered by Christmas magic - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

United hosts extra special flight powered by Christmas magic

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It was a fantasy trip to the North Pole. United Airlines this year took 35 athletes from Special Olympics Guam on the short journey up in the air and back down to the winter wonderland set up inside the airport terminal.

The journey, no doubt, becoming the ultimate gift for those on board--especially, for 9-year-old Dylan Paul Stremmelaar. It was his first time on an airplane. A love for sports, reading and, as his mom said as he imitated as roar, "He loves dinosaurs!" Dylan Stremmelaar started his Friday off early at the local airport with dozens of his fellow athletes.

His sister, Sarah, mom and dad sat by his side ready for their trip, saying, "To the North Pole!"

 It's a destination these children could only dream of visiting.

Tano Iglesias said when we asked what he'd be seeing, "Probably elves, Santa, reindeers and, I think, snow, of course." As to what he'd ask Santa for, he replied, "Either Squooshies, cat ears or clothes."

After checking in and getting his ticket to board, Dylan gets a surprise note, saying, "This is a letter from Santa!"

The group makes their way through TSA. Dylan is ready for the experience of lifetime, as he waved, "Bye bye."

This 9-year-old admitted he was scared at first, but once he steps on board – "This is my first time going on a flight!" he said ecstatically.

He makes it to his seat and up the air. Flight attendants handing out gifts while in flight, and Dylan braving it all with his new teddy bear that he named Ben.

"It's cool but I am freaking out because I feel like a bird," he said.

From the sky back down on land. Dylan and the others enter their winter wonderland - the North Pole!

He kicks the fake snow off his shoes and heads right over to take photos with Santa and Mrs. Clause among other holiday activities.

"It is awesome," he said.

It was a fun time for all. Darlene Stremmelaar said of her son's experience, "It's just perfect. It's an all-around event that makes them feel special" - including for his mom and dad.

But, one there's one thing that really makes this time extra special for Dylan. He has ADHD and has got a writing, math and reading disability. Darlene says there are no doubt tough times, telling KUAM News, "That's why he is in sports to have that feeling of community but he's not always the first to say come over and play. I know they are not doing it on person...but there is so many people that love him anyway so it doesn't matter...I wish parents could teach them to love everybody...We find ways to help him and this is something for him that's really special."

It was a special moment as this is United's 5th year putting on their Fantasy Flight to the North Pole. Tammy Castro and dozens of volunteers work to make it possible. "It does take months of planning, a lot of volunteers and a lot of support from the community," she explained.

Planning and hard work that's all well worth it. She added, "It's that feeling and most especially around this time of year, it's all about giving and not because there is a specific reason but you do it because it's that feeling inside that the indescribable feeling. The goosebumps I told you about. That's why I do it."

Yukiko Aricayos, a United Flight Attendant, added, "Thank you for all the community. We need so much help for special needs kids. It's a great opportunity to make them more happy."

Santa Claus himself told us, "Their reaction is amazing. This is such a great event. The look on the kids' faces almost brings a tear to my eye sometimes."

A magical experience to create memories that will last a lifetime for the children, their parents and their coaches. But, the giving didn't stop there. Each participant including Dylan grabbed their gifts from Santa from the airport's baggage carousel. Dylan said, "I got a comic book, a blanket, bag, toy and another comic book...thank you, everybody!"

Truly an amazing venture that United Airlines and all the volunteers worked hard to make possible. We want to thank them for having us along for the journey.

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