A recent visit by six-year old Shane Westhead, of St. Louis, MO, with grandparents Charles and Maryann Salerno, of Ridley Township, was, as usual, a lot of fun. But leaving Ridley for home was even more fun. Why? Because not many kids get to sit in the pilot’s seat in the cockpit of the airliner before it takes off, and get a quick lesson from pilot “John” on what it takes to keep the plane in the air.
Maryann Salerno said her grandson and his mother, Christine Stiles, were in Ridley Township helping PopPop Charles celebrate his 70th birthday. While mother and son were waiting to board their flight back to St. Louis at Philadelphia International Airport, it was time for Shane to get an insulin shot to control his Type 1 diabetes.
“Shane asked his mother to help him give himself his own shot,” Salerno explained. “At that time the Southwest Airlines pilot came by and saw what Shane was doing and after learning the details of the insulin injection, the pilot, without hesitation, told Shane he was proud of him and it made his day.”
When Shane and his mother boarded the plane, the pilot invited him to the cabin, where he donned the pilot’s hat and posed for photos.
“Shane checks his sugar levels and now he is interested in giving himself his own shot,” Salerno said.
Christine grew up in Ridley and graduated from Ridley High School and Widener University with a degree in nursing. Shane’s dad, Jim, works at Scott Air Force Base in St. Louis. The family includes two other sons, DJ and Dylan.
Maryann Salerno is board services coordinator, business and human resources manager and secretary for the Ridley School Board.
“It seemed like a small gesture,” Salerno said of the pilot’s actions, “but it went a long way to making a child who has some struggles feel valued and important.”
As for Shane’s adventure at the airport, he had this reaction, “I’m famous!”