Real Life Stories

A Forever Friendship Takes Flight

A flight attendant for Southwest Airlines, Jess is used to calming nervous flyers, but this time would be different. The passenger was her Little Sister Bianca, and this was her very first flight.

Bianca showed bravery from the beginning. “It was really cool to meet her,” she said of the first time she met her new Big Sister, Jess. “I think I was more excited than nervous.” Jess, on the other hand, was a bit more tentative. Having heard about Big Brothers Big Sisters from a coworker who was involved with the agency, Jess was curious. “I wasn't sure I knew enough about kids to do it, but I wanted to find out more,” she told us. After her initial interview, she was confident and felt supported. Jess was ready to be matched.

Jess and Bianca were a perfect pair. Bianca’s mother, Carrie, took note. “I don't know how [BBBSBA] does it—match.com couldn't have gotten it better,” she exclaimed. “If I could create a mini-Jessica it would be Bianca.” The two had a whirlwind year, walking in BBBSBA’s Coasting for Kids’ Sake, going roller skating, and playing laser tag. “We put together a scrapbook to commemorate all of the outings we shared!” Jess said.

During their time together, Jess learned that Bianca had never been on an airplane before, so she set out to make that happen. “Her willingness to try new things and ability to roll with the punches is something I appreciate,” Jess tells us of Bianca. “Knowing that I can count on her flexibility makes it easier for me to plan things like our airplane ride!

A quick Southwest flight to Los Angeles was in the cards. Jess let the crew know that this was Bianca’s first flight, and they all agreed to make the experience one she would not soon forget. The flight crew made announcements during the flight to welcome her, she got to visit the cockpit to meet the pilot, and even assisted in handing out snacks! With all that, knowing that her Big Sister was there alongside her is what reassured Bianca the most. “She gave me advice about how not to be scared,” Bianca remarked.

Just a short time later, roles would be reversed as Bianca helped Jess cross a milestone off her list: riding a bicycle for the first time in 20 years. “I was completely freaked out,” Jess told us. “[Bianca] rode right behind me and talked to me the whole time so that I would know she was still there.”

At the risk of speaking in travel cliches, it’s not always about the destination, it’s about the journey. While this short flight—and even shorter bike ride— was a big step for Jess and Bianca as a match, they know it’s just one moment of their journey together. “What I thought of as a 1-year plan,” Jess confesses, “has brought me a relationship that I hope lasts forever.”

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