It’s no secret that it takes a special type of person to be a part of the airline industry. Its constant change can be challenging, but it’s this experience that bonds aviation professionals to one another. ExpressJet is no exception to this rule.
In many ways, our employees are like family. One person’s successes and struggles are everyone’s, and perhaps no one knows this better than Cleveland-based Captain Scott Z. and his family.
Scott has been with ExpressJet for nearly decade, but the compassion of his fellow employees still amazes him to this day.
“I didn’t know what to expect when I asked people for help,” said Scott. “The response we’ve gotten has been incredible. There are no words to tell you what this means to my family.”
Scott’s family was blessed with two daughters. His older daughter, Kaitlynn, was everything Scott and his wife, Michaelle, asked for. As they navigated parenthood for the first time, watching their little girl grow, it became clear that there was something wrong. She wasn’t meeting her milestones and at seven months had her first seizure.
Five years and countless hospital tests later, Kaitlynn is still undiagnosed. Doctors believe she has a chromosome disorder, but it’s impossible to say which. The disorder has hindered her development, keeping her from learning how to walk or communicate.
Through research, Scott and Michaelle learned that a service dog may help Kaitlynn. A service dog’s companionship and seizure sensing ability would be invaluable to Kaitlynn, but Scott believes it could impact her social development as well.
“She can’t talk, but at the same time, she’s so social,” said Scott. “She’s at that age where she should be starting preschool, but it’s tough. Kids that age will shy away from her, because she’s different. If she has a dog though, the dog would be her icebreaker. It would bring the kids around her and expand her world to a type of social interaction she’s never had.”
Though there are an infinite number of ways Kaitlynn could benefit from a service dog, the price is steep: $10,000. Out of financial means, Scott and Michaelle turned to social media for help. Although they had some success, Scott had no expectations when he reached out to some of his fellow ExpressJet pilots. The story spread up through the corporate office, and a story was posted on the company intranet.
“It just went viral. People I didn’t fly with, that I didn’t even know, contributed to help Kaitlynn. It was amazing.”
Scott and Michaelle are well on their way to getting Kaitlynn a service dog. They have a few more months to finish raising the money, and then they’ll receive a dog from the non-profit organization, Working Animals Giving Service for Kids (WAGS) by early next year.
“Whenever we show her pictures of potential dogs, Kaitlynn shouts with happy noises and waves her arms in excitement,” said Scott. “This experience showed us how great it is to have so much support from everyone in the company. It means we don’t have to focus on things that don’t matter, like money, and we can focus on things that do matter, like being there for Kaitlynn.”
Hopefully, Scott and his family will have the funding for Kaitlynn’s service dog sooner than they think. In the two days since this story posted on ExpressJet’s internal website, employees, along with friends and family, have raised more than $5,000 for Kaitlynn’s service dog. With any luck, this will only be the start of something amazing for Scott and his wonderful family.
If you’re interested in learning more about Kaitlynn’s journey and how you can help her get a service dog, visit her GoFundMe page.