The Foundation for this program started in 1985 by a number of Eastern Airline flight
attendants and has grown ever since. For many years, the Manatee County Sheriff’s
Office and the Sarasota/Bradenton Airport Fire Department make this a memorable
event for the terminally ill children.
This year we will have over 120 terminally ill children who are able to attend this event
and sometimes this may be their last memorable holiday to celebrate with their siblings
and parents. The “Flight to the North Pole” tradition continues in that each child that
attends [and their siblings] are presented with gifts, lunch, and entertained by volunteers
dressed as elves and clowns. The event is held the second week in December, with the
Sheriff and his staff volunteering their time, along with Airport Fire Department
personnel. The Sheriff’s Office helicopter transports “Santa”, who lands at the airport
Fire Station and greets the children and their families, with hugs. Once Santa arrives,
you can hardly contain the excitement of the children and families. Inside the Fire
Station, is a Santa’s workshop, where the children can sit with Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus
and tell them of their list and receive their gift bags. Needless to say, this is a
memorable event not only for the children, but for their families as well.
Volunteers from the business community and citizens from Manatee and Sarasota
counties provide dollars for gifts, in-kind donations of food, time, gifts, door prizes,
entertainment and other services.
The end result is a Christmas Wonderland of snow, elves, decorations, lights, and
Santa and Mrs. Claus greeting each and every child, taking photographs, and providing
gifts. Lunch is served, choirs sing, and volunteers surround the children and their
families to help them maximize their time away from illness/disease and enjoy the
holiday without any stresses.