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Seriously Ill Kids Fly To “North Pole” To Meet Santa

About 80 seriously ill children got to take a flight to the "North Pole" (Gate C20 at O'Hare International Airport) to meet Santa Claus, thanks to a team effort by the Starlight Children's Foundation and United Airlines. (Credit: CBS)

About 80 seriously ill children got to take a flight to the “North Pole” (Gate C20 at O’Hare International Airport) to meet Santa Claus, thanks to a team effort by the Starlight Children’s Foundation and United Airlines. (Credit: CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) – When a child is seriously ill, a parent will do just about anything to make him or her happy. One children’s charity teamed up with United Airlines this weekend in Chicago to help several parents of seriously ill kids very happy.

CBS 2’s Jim Williams reports the Starlight Children’s Foundation fulfilled its mission to bring happiness to seriously ill kids on Saturday, when they worked with United Airlines to take more than 80 kids on trip they’ll never forget.

Flight attendants sang Christmas carols as the kids boarded a United Airlines jet and then circled the city, before making their way to the “North Pole” (Gate C-20 at O’Hare International Airport) to visit Santa Claus.

When the kids got off the plane, they were greeted by singing and clapping Chicago firefighters.

Once at the North Pole, the kids had their faces painted, ate a big meal, and opened gifts.

“They’ve all filled out wishlists, and the employees of United have generously shopped for them,” said Joan Steltmann, executive director of the Midwest chapter of the Starlight Foundation.

They also got to hang out with the Chicago Bulls mascot Benny The Bull.

It was a happy time for the parents, too.

“This experience means time to get away from hopsital visits and seizures,” Angelic Echeverria said.

Her son, Manuel, has cerebral palsy and other complex medical issues.

Chicago police officers also took part in the event.

United Airlines employees volunteered for the effort, including Capt. Cynthia Berkeley, who flew the plane.