Fresno Yosemite International Airport to Host Second Wings for Autism® Program

Fresno, CA - (April 27, 2018) Fresno Yosemite International Airport will host a second Wings for Autism® program sponsored by The Arc of the United States, in partnership with The Arc Fresno/Madera Counties, SkyWest Airlines, Transportation Security Administration (TSA), Delta Global Services (DGS), HP Inc., Hudson Group and HMS Host.  The Wings for Autism® program provides individuals with autism or other intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families the opportunity to prepare for air travel in a real-life environment.

Air travel can prove particularly challenging with all of the activity at a busy airport including the crowds, unfamiliar sounds and noises. The Wings for Autism® program will not only help to alleviate the stress individuals and their families may experience when traveling, but will also enlighten airport and airline professionals about how best to serve individuals with autism or other intellectual and developmental disabilities.

As a result of overwhelming response from the inaugural Wings for Autism® at Fresno Yosemite International Airport in 2017, a waitlist was created and this year’s event will host forty-five families from California’s Central Valley who were on the waitlist.

Families will begin to arrive tomorrow morning at 9:00 a.m. for airline check-in with Delta Global Services.  After receiving their boarding passes, the group will proceed to TSA security screening and then to the gate area where SkyWest Airlines will announce a simulated flight departure and will begin boarding families on the airline’s regional jet to taxi the airfield.

At the conclusion, participants will receive a Hudson Group gift bag filled with travel keepsakes donated by the airport and partners as well as a social story book to personalize their Wings for Autism® experience.  A giant backdrop featuring a SkyWest aircraft designed by the airline and printed by HP will give families the opportunity to capture memories of their day at the airport.  A second airport rehearsal will be repeated at 1:00 p.m.

“Our goal as an airport is to help make the air travel experience as comfortable and as stress free as possible,” said Director of Aviation Kevin Meikle.  “The Wings for Autism® program is designed to give families the confidence to travel by air so that every family has the opportunity to vacation or visit with friends and relatives.”

“We are excited to host the Wings for Autism® again.   For individuals with autism spectrum disorders, everyday tasks can sometimes prove to be more difficult for them.  This wonderful event helps families to prepare for future challenges they may experience when flying,” said Lori Ramirez, Executive Director of The Arc Fresno/Madera Counties.  “We are so grateful to our partners who are committed to making air travel a possibility for individuals with autism and other intellectual and developmental disabilities.”

“SkyWest is honored to share our love of flying as part of Wings for Autism®,” said Lori Hunt, Vice President of People at SkyWest Airlines. “Few things bring as much wonderment and awe to children as the miracle of flight and we are thrilled to help these most precious passengers have that experience.”

“The Transportation Security Administration is honored to support the Wings for Autism® designed to alleviate some of the stress that families experience by creating an environment of help and assistance to our entire community,” said Robert Benson, Director of Operations for TSA Fresno.  “We are excited to work with all our Airport partners and The Arc, assuring everyone has a chance to experience the benefit of air travel.”

“Having a sustainable impact in the communities in which we operate is a core value for HP,” said Enrique Lores, President, Imaging & Printing at HP Inc. “We are thrilled to support Wings for Autism® at the Fresno Yosemite International Airport as part of our promise to leverage our people, our products and our communities to make life better for everyone, everywhere.”

“Hudson Group is proud to support Fresno Yosemite International Airport in its efforts to provide individuals with autism or other intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families with the opportunity to prepare for air travel in an encouraging and inviting environment,” said Mike Petersen, Senior Vice President of Operations at Hudson Group. “This program represents our continued commitment to be 'The Traveler's Best Friend,' while also supporting the community in which we serve.”

Fresno Yosemite International Airport - Fresno Yosemite International Airport currently offers Valley passengers daily non-stop flights to Dallas, Denver, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Portland, Salt Lake City, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, and Guadalajara and Morelia, Mexico on domestic and international carriers.  Fresno Yosemite International Airport is a municipally owned entity operating as a self-supporting enterprise. No City of Fresno general funds are used to operate Fresno Yosemite International Airport or Fresno Chandler Executive Airport.

SkyWest Airlines  - With 13,200 aviation professionals operating over 2,100 daily flights, SkyWest Airlines connects millions of passengers each month to 241 destinations across North America. SkyWest operates in partnership with Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, American Airlines and Alaska Airlines and has a fleet of 431 aircraft. Headquartered in St. George, Utah, SkyWest’s industry-leading workforce and excellent leadership team have consistently generated solid operational and economic performance, setting the standard for excellence in the regional industry.  For more information visit www.skywest.com or follow us on Twitter @SkyWestAirlines

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