Families Make Rare Air Show Memories

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OCEAN CITY — Salisbury
native Jill Fears gets choked up when talking about last weekend’s Ocean City
Air Show, and, ironically, her tears stem from a special moment she and her
family experienced on the ground.

Tens of thousands of
spectators were treated to aerial brilliance last weekend as the US Air Force
Thunderbirds closed out what is being widely considered as the biggest and most
successful OC Air Show in its short three-year history.

Yet, a handful of
families from the local Believe in Tomorrow Children’s House were personally
invited by the Thunderbirds during the Air Show rehearsal last Friday, and the
brief meeting with these aerial superstars left a lasting impression on the
families.

“Our son Daniel, who is
five, is essentially wheel chair bound, and he can’t talk due to a number of
conditions he has, but he was just blown away and was grinning from ear to ear
when he saw those planes in the air last week,” said Fears, “and what was even
more special, was that some of the other Thunderbirds pilots who weren’t flying
in the show came and spent some time with the kids and gave Daniel a special
pin of the planes in a delta formation. It was pretty amazing and just so
touching.”

Fears said the children
were in the Colonel’s Club VIP seating area at the center of Air Show
headquarters on 16th Street where the announcer was set up, and
noted that the kids got to be up close and personal with some of the Leap Frog
parachute team as well as the Thunderbirds. She says that the little bit of
time that the performers spent with the kids was incredibly gracious.

“You know, it’s a big
air show, and there’s so much going on for those pilots and performers, but for
them to come and take a few minutes and get down on Daniel’s level and just
spend some time talking to him and the other kids just shows how amazing they
are as people,” Fears said.

The Believe in Tomorrow
Children’s House, which is celebrating its 25th year of bringing
critically ill children and their families to the Delmarva peninsula, was
invited to bring some of its families to the Air Show for the second straight
year. Last season, however, some of the meet-and-greet festivities for the
children were cut short due to the fog that had postponed some of last year’s
event.

This year, however, a
small gesture of goodwill from the pilots created lasting memories for some
kids in need of a lift.

“The best part of the
Air Show in my opinion was the F-16’s and the FA-18 Hornets,” said 12-year-old
Beau Swallow, who is currently battling cancer. “My brother helped a Navy Seal
pack his parachute and he showed the Navy Seal his awesome pushups. It really
helped me forget about my cancer a ton.”

Fears noted the gracious
and caring home away from home that the Believe in Tomorrow Children’s House
has been for her family and said that meeting the Thunderbirds was certainly
one of the big thrills in her children’s lives thus far.

“There was one moment
were the Thunderbirds pilots were carrying Danny and his wheelchair down the
steps that I just wish I could have gotten a picture of,” said Fears.
“Sometimes things are very hard having a child like Daniel, but we consider him
our gift from God, and we make the best of it and try to make every day as fun
as it can be. So, to see the smile on his face that day, made me so thankful
that Ocean City puts on such an event like the air show that all types of
families can enjoy together. It was such a great day for Danny.”

 

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