Any parent knows that flying with children is right up there on the top 10 list of things we’d rather not do. There’s usually crying, possibly screaming, and stress. So much stress. Stress that’s increased a thousand-fold by your fellow cranky passengers who apparently have never had children or have conveniently forgotten what it’s like to travel with children. Travellers who want nothing more than to be far far away on an ‘adults only’ plane. Travellers who sigh loudly, mutter under their breath, and shoot daggers out of their eyes because “for the love, can you not get that baby to be quiet!” Fun times. Now add to the challenge a baby with chronic lung disease hooked up to an oxygen tank, destination Children’s Hospital, and the degree of difficulty has just reached extreme.
Meet Kelsey Zwick and the man in 2D. Zwick was flying economy with her 11-month-old twin daughter, Lucy, on an American Airlines flight from their home in Orlando to Philadelphia. They were headed to the Philadelphia Children’s Hospital where Lucy undergoes treatment for chronic lung disease. In a Facebook post that has since gone viral with over 425,000 shares, Zwick shares her encounter with a kind stranger – the man in 2D – who gave up his first-class seat for the mother and daughter.
I was pushing a stroller, had a diaper bag on my arm and also lugging an oxygen machine for my daughter. We had smiles on our faces as we were headed to see her “friends” at CHOP (Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia). We pre- boarded the plane, got cozy in our window seat and made jokes to those around us about having to sit by my yelling-but-happy baby.
It was at that point that a flight attendant approached Zwick and told her a gentleman was waiting to switch his seat in first-class with hers in economy.
Not able to hold back tears, I cried my way up the aisle while my daughter Lucy laughed! She felt it in her bones too… real, pure, goodness. I smiled and thanked you as we switched but didn’t get to thank you properly.
To the man in 2D it may have only been a seat on a two-and-a half-hour flight, but to Zwick it was so much more. It was the culmination of a difficult journey over the past few months. Her twin daughters, Lucy and Eva, were born at just 29 weeks and spent several months in the NICU. As a result of their premature birth, both suffer from chronic lung disease. She tells Yahoo! News:
Eva spent 86 days in the NICU, and Lucy spent 100. They have chronic lung disease, and Lucy’s is considered severe. Her and her sister came home on oxygen 100 percent, so we had two alarms, two oxygen tanks; 50-foot cords everywhere,” Zwick said. “They came home in April. Eva came off [oxygen] shortly after, and Lucy, because she was so sick, had other complications. Because her lungs were so bad, everything was harder for her. She was on oxygen and not really improving.”
In September, Lucy began a treatment to improve her lung function, 987 miles from home, at the Philadelphia Children’s Hospital. It’s working.
The first time we went in September, she was still [on] 100 percent on oxygen; all day, all night. They checked her out, and within two weeks after seeing them, she came off a couple hours a day. Three months after seeing them, she’s off during the day completely. She’s on at night or if she flies, because of the pressure.”
Zwick was hoping to catch up with her mystery hero at the baggage claim to thank him but missed him. She took to Facebook to relay her gratitude and to let him know that she would pay it forward.
Sooo… thank you. Not just for the seat itself but for noticing. For seeing us and realizing that maybe things are not always easy. For deciding you wanted to show a random act of kindness to US. It reminded me how much good there is in this world. I can’t wait to tell Lucy someday. In the meantime… we will pay it forward.
American Airlines learned of her post and connected her with the man in 2D – Jason Kunselman – who, in true hero fashion, didn’t think much of his good deed. He told ABC News, “It just seemed like the right thing to do.”
Thank you, Jason, for reminding the world that kindness matters and that although it may not always seem like it, there is still so much good in the world.