128th Air Refueling Wing takes kids on "Flight to the North Pole"

MILWAUKEE -- An early visit from Santa. Christmas may be weeks away, but dozens of children in Milwaukee got the chance to tell Santa their wishlists and take a trip to the North Pole. For these kids, it was a trip of a lifetime.

With travel passes in hand these children beamed with smiles from ear to ear as they geared up to see Santa himself. “Our goal is hopefully it takes them out of the hospital environment we’re dealing with and put the mind a mindset to celebrate the holiday seasons and just enjoy themselves,” said Captain John Capra.

Thanks to the Wisconsin Air National Guard 128th refueling group along with other volunteers, these kids who are battling life-threatening medical conditions are getting to do something they’ve only dreamed of.

Kandice Owens said, “I think they’ll enjoy it. They won’t stop talking about it the entire weekend.” Owens’ 2 year old little girl Evelyn has leukemia and the event is a bright spot in a taxing week. “Monday through Friday we’re there doing chemo and we’re there for 4-5 hours on end,” added Owens.

And for little Lauren Sharp who is also fighting a form of leukemia, she spent last Christmas in the hospital and celebrating the holiday was her number one wish. Her Father Scott said, “A day like this certainly put her into high spirits and certainly important to have hope and high spirits.”

First a short bus ride, then onto Santa’s liner they go. With goodies in hand, they hoped aboard a  KC 135 completely decked out with Christmas flair, destination…the North Pole. The military team had great intel and radioed Santa directly so the kids could share their wishlists. After taking turns in the cockpit, it was time to meet St. Nick. Greeted by a lane of carolers and as they stepped into the ultimate Christmas party. 

It was a magical day in more ways than one. The kids shared their excitement and words of encouragement with each other. “Stay strong don’t look back,” said Sharp. Of course, it wouldn’t be Christmas without presents, but for these children the real gift was having a dream come true. “I’m always going to remember this Christmas,” Sharp added.

About 25 families were chosen by Children’s Hospital and the Make-A-Wish foundation to attend Saturday’s event.