Hailey's #Journeyto30 Takes Off - United Hub

Hailey's #Journeyto30 takes off

By The Hub team

Updated on September 24, 2018

Do you remember Hailey Dawson? Hailey is the eight-year-old girl whom we flew to Houston last November for Games 3 and 4 of the 2017 World Series. It's hard to forget Hailey because she's a special young girl on a very special mission – to throw out the first pitch at every Major League Baseball park. On September 16, completed her mission and threw out her 30th first pitch while in Los Angeles, California.

Hailey wears a prosthetic hand made with a 3D printer due to a birth defect known as Poland syndrome, a condition that caused her to be born missing three fingers on her right hand. After her story went viral last year, all 30 MLB teams invited her to be their guest of honor, and we offered to fly her to each of her stadium visits.

"United is doing something we could have never done on our own to make Hailey's dream come true," said Hailey's Mom, Yong Dawson.

Hailey's #Journeyto30, as its been dubbed on social media, kicked off in May with a flight from Las Vegas to San Francisco to attend the San Francisco Giants game. To make this first journey extra special, employees at Las Vegas's McCarran International Airport hosted a sendoff celebration at the gate for Hailey and her family. Las Vegas airport employees sent the Dawsons off with cheers at the gate. Hailey was also invited to visit the cockpit before takeoff and even got to make the announcement welcoming customers on board the aircraft.

Hailey smiling with employees prior to her flight in Las Vegas

Not only do they receive cheers when heading off to a new destination, but they also receive them upon arrival in each new city, which is so special to Hailey and her family. Hailey's mom, Yong, says, her number one focus for her daughter during this experience is to just have fun. "It's such a confidence builder for her when she meets all of these people and gets to talk about her hand."

From San Francisco, Hailey headed off to Chicago and has been traveling all over the U.S. to various ballparks since. From visiting these cities to touring the flight simulator and throwing out the first pitch in Denver to exploring Chicago and meeting the players on the White Sox, she has been having the summer of a lifetime. As she travels to each park, her mom always says that, "Hailey is the most excited to get new autographs and use her many different 3D printed hands to throw out the first pitch at each ballpark."

Hailey in the cockpit before the flight.

One of her favorite trips so far was going to Baltimore – she has been a baseball fan ever since and especially thanks to her Dad's love for the team after growing up in Maryland. It was actually Hailey who initiated the idea to throw out the first pitch at each ballpark and is it where her journey truly began.

Though this journey is an exciting experience, it's also about more than visiting all of the baseball parks in the country. This experience has created a unique opportunity to help bring awareness to Poland Syndrome. "Many people don't know much – if anything – about this syndrome," says Yong "So this journey has given us a platform to talk about it and to also talk about her own robotic hand and just how accessible it is — if you need one, they're easy to get." Hailey recently completed her mission and threw out the first pitch at all 30 baseball stadiums in the U.S. and we are thrilled that we were able to be part of her inspiring #Journeyto30.

Entertainment for all

By The Hub team, August 04, 2020

Our Marketing Inflight Entertainment and Connectivity team and Bridge, our Business Resource Group (BRG) for people with all abilities, partnered together to test and provide feedback on our award-winning seatback inflight entertainment (IFE) system.

Aptly named "Entertainment for all," our new seatback IFE system offers the an extensive suite of accessibility features, allowing for unassisted use by people of all visual, hearing, mobility and language abilities.

"It's nice to know that I can get on a plane and pick my favorite entertainment to enjoy, just like every customer," said Accessibility Senior Analyst and Developer and Bridge Chief of Staff Ray C., who is blind.

"As a deaf employee, the closed captioning availability on board our aircraft is something I value greatly," added Information Technology Analyst Greg O. "The new IFE further cements United's visibility within the deaf community and elsewhere. It makes me proud to be an employee."

Accessibility features of the new IFE include a text-to-speech option, explore by touch, customizable text size, screen magnification, color correction and inversion modes, and alternative navigation options for those unable to swipe or use a handset. For hearing-impaired and non-English-speaking passengers, customization options provide the ability for customers to be served content and receive inflight notifications based on their preferences and settings —with closed captions, with subtitles or in the language of their choice from the 15 languages supported. Our "Entertainment for all" system won the Crystal Cabin Award in 2019, and recently, the Dr. Margaret Pfanstiehl Research and Development Award for Audio Description by the American Council of the Blind.

"This really showed the benefits of partnering with BRGs in helping us improve products and services for our customers and employees," said Inflight Entertainment and Connectivity Senior Manager Corinne S. "Even though we have been recognized with awards for our IFE accessibility features, we are not resting on our laurels but continuing to work towards improving the inflight entertainment experience for all of our customers to ensure entertainment is available for all."

Shaping an inclusive future with Special Olympics

By The Hub team, July 24, 2020

If your travels have taken you through Chicago O'Hare International Airport anytime since October 2019, you may have had a friendly, caring and jovial exchange with Daniel Smrokowski. Daniel is one of four Service Ambassadors thanks to our ongoing partnership with Special Olympics. This inaugural ambassador program aims to provide Special Olympic athletes employment opportunities within our operation, affording them a unique and meaningful career.

Since 2018, our partnership with Special Olympics has become one of United's most cherished relationships, going beyond the events we take part in and volunteer with. While the plane pull competitions, polar plunges, duck derbies and Special Olympics World Games and other events around the world are a big part of our involvement, the heart of this partnership lies with the athletes and individuals supported by Special Olympics. To advocate for their inclusion in every setting is one of our biggest honors, and we take great pride in the role we play in the organization's inclusion revolution.

Aiding in the success of Special Olympics' mission to create continuing opportunities for individuals with intellectual disabilities, throughout the two-year partnership, United has volunteered over 10,500 hours and donated over $1.2 million in travel to the organization. The impact of this partnership is felt at every level, both at Special Olympics and within our own ranks.

"The Inclusion Revolution campaign, led by our athletes, aims to end discrimination against people with intellectual disabilities. United Airlines has joined in our fight for inclusion, empowering our athletes with the skills needed to succeed and opportunities to contribute their abilities as leaders," said Special Olympics International Chairman Tim Shriver. "United Airlines believes that people with intellectual disabilities should be perceived as they really are: independent, world-class athletes, students, employees, neighbors, travelers, and leaders who contribute to make this world a better place."

Our Service Ambassador program is just one of the many ways Special Olympics has impacted not only our employees, but also our customers. "I see every day how our Service Ambassadors connect with our customers the moment they walk into the airport lobby," said Senior Customer Service Supervisor Steve Suchorabski. "They provide a warm, welcoming smile ad assist in any way they can. To see these young adults hold positions that a society once told them they couldn't is truly the most heartwarming part of my job," Steve continued.

"The opportunity to be a part of the United family means everything to me," Daniel said. "I feel so much pride showing up to work in a Special Olympics/United co-branded uniform, working among such a loving and supportive community. The relationship between these two organizations is truly helping to shape my future while letting me use my gifts of communicating and helping others. Hopefully, I can spend my entire career at United," Daniel added.

In honor of Special Olympics' Global Week of Inclusion in July, we're asking our employees, customers and partners to sign a pledge to #ChooseToInclude at jointherevolution.org/pledge.

And be sure to check out Daniel's podcast The Special Chronicles.

United works with partners to send food to USDA food bank

By The Hub team, July 23, 2020

In collaboration with food-logistics company Commodity Forwarders Inc. (CFI), United moved nearly 190,000 pounds of fresh produce to Guam for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Coronavirus Farm Assistance Program. This new program was created to provide critical support to consumers impacted by the COVID-19 global pandemic.

A variety of fresh fruits were transported from Los Angeles (LAX) to Guam (GUM) on United's newly introduced, non-stop cargo-only flight – a route added to meet cargo demand during the COVID-19 crisis. The fresh food was repacked in 10-pound cases in Los Angeles, prepared for departure at CFI's LAX location, and flown to GUM by the United team. Through this beneficial partnership between United and CFI, the perishable goods were kept cool during every step of the process and distributed as part of the food bank program in Guam.

"Everyone on our team has worked relentlessly during the pandemic to get critical goods to where they are needed most. Establishing a comprehensive network of cargo-only flights have allowed us to keep the supply chain moving even while passenger flight capacity has been reduced," said Regional Senior Manager of Cargo Sales, Marco Vezjak. "Knowing that we are able to help during these difficult times – in this case the Guam community – is our biggest reward and greatest motivation to keep moving forward."

United is proud to play a role in maintaining the global food supply chain and helping people access the supplies they need. Since March 19, United has operated over 4,000 cargo-only flights, moving over 130 million pounds of cargo.

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