“You Can Hold On As Long As You Want To” Sweetest Story Of The Day. Nine-year-old Gabby Swart lives with Type 1 diabetes — a condition that can be dangerously aggravated by anxiety and stress. Gabby gets nervous while flying (I’m there with you, honey) and she had to sit across from her mother and two younger siblings on a Southwest flight from Orlando to New Jersey. Her mother, Erica hoped holding Gabby’s hand could get her through takeoff- but the nine year old was struggling. So flight attendant Garrick Riley stepped in, asking Swart if her daughter was OK.
“Garrick came over and said, ‘You did so good, I’m so proud of you! I’m going to let you get the first drink on the plane,’” Swart told TODAY. “Because of her illness, we don’t do a lot of sugary drinks, but I said she could have whatever she wanted. She was so stressed out that she said she’d just have water.”
Riley stayed close Gabby for the rest of the flight. When he could tell her anxiety was spiking again, he’d make a joke or ask her a silly question. He even showed Gabby the flight tracker on his phone and explained to her what the landing would be like to calm her fears.
“As we were getting closer weather was rough and there was a bit of turbulence. Gabby began having a complete panic attack on descent,” Swart wrote in a post on Southwest Airlines’ Facebook page. “He came up to the front and asked if she would like for him to sit next to her in the empty seat.”
Gabby kept a death grip on his arm while Riley showed her pictures of his daughter, played a game with her on his phone- anything to keep her occupied. “Once on the ground while taxiing to the gate, he came on the intercom and announced that his friend Gabby in the front row overcame her fear of flying and asked for a round of applause,” Swart wrote. “The whole plane clapped for her… We are forever grateful to have met such a beautiful, selfless soul.”
Tell me this isn’t a beautiful story. I’m going to make it a goal to find three people I can publicly thank this week. It’s so easy to file a complaint, but when stories like Gabby and Riley’s go viral, you know we need more of them. Who can you thank on social media today?