Ronald McDonald House families embark on special flight to the North Pole

A dozen families who have been staying at the Ronald McDonald House received a much-needed reprieve from their days in hospital as they boarded a magical flight from the Calgary International Airport to the North Pole.

The flight was organized by volunteers with Air Canada Jazz who wanted to share the Christmas spirit with children who will likely spend the holiday season in hospital.

Jaylin Mendenhall boarded the flight alongside his son. “Little Mason here was diagnosed with Stage 4 neuroblastoma back in July,” said Mendenhall. “He is going to be in strict isolation for three weeks. He won’t be able to leave the room.”

Following a safety demonstration from the elves of the flight crew, the plane took off. Within minutes, the children were gazing down on the wintery landscape of the mountainous ‘North Pole’. While the scenery captured their attention, the passengers failed to notice a special visitor had joined them.

Santa Claus made his way down the aisle handing out gifts and led the group in Christmas carols.

The entire flight crew donated their time to the cause.

“It’s volunteer,” said Marlene Oberg, a flight attendant with Air Canada. “I love it. I said before I would have paid to do this. It was amazing.”

Stephanie King embraced the opportunity to spend time with her loved ones outside of the Ronald McDonald House.

“It’s important for the kids to experience things as a family because often times you are separated,” said King. “We really appreciate the family being together.”

Saturday’s flight from Calgary to the North Pole was the third edition of the annual event and similar trips have been made from cities throughout Canada.

With files from CTV’s Brad MacLeod

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