Photo courtesy of the Seattle Seahawks
It was not the likely outcome Delta Charter program manager Matt Pinholster envisioned when he first proposed the idea to his boss and the Seattle Seahawks football team, but the realization of it all coming together made for a magical Saturday afternoon in Seattle.
More than 30 years ago, Pinholster’s mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. She fought through treatment to become a survivor, but the feelings of possibly losing his mom have stuck with him throughout his life.
So, when his new role at Delta had him coordinating travel for NFL teams, he saw a unique opportunity for Delta to team up with the NFL and the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, one of Delta’s long-time partners.
Several of Delta’s charter teams use off-airport ground handling companies to manage the loading and unloading of flights. This typically provides faster access to get teams on the road home or on to competition venues, but there is an additional cost.
Pinholster’s idea was to have the Seahawks land at Los Angeles International airport for their upcoming road game against the Chargers rather than landing off-site. The aircraft would be met and managed by Delta’s ground handlers, and the money saved by the Seahawks would then be donated to BCRF. Delta would match its partner’s contribution.
“I wanted the effort to be a small part of what eventually helps find a cure to end cancer,” said Pinholster, “and I just remember not wanting another child to go through the things I had experienced.”
Pinholster pitched the idea to his counterpart with the Seahawks, and they were in.
Departing Seattle for L.A.
When they arrived to SEA-TAC, the Seahawks were met by dozens of Delta employees, many of whom had ventured over to the hangar after their work shift, waiting in the elements to greet the team. Employees, dressed in pink and waving “12” flags, joined the Seahawks’ dancers and mascot, Blitz, in welcoming the team. The players and coaches waved and boarded the flight, where the team’s usual aircraft had been replaced with Delta’s signature BCRF Pink Plane.
“We are proud to be able to team up with our local partners to do great things in the community,” said Joan Wang, Managing Director – Global Sales. “In the true spirit of teamwork, we’re grateful to our colleagues in L.A. for providing the support that funded this effort.”
Seahawks rookie and offensive lineman Charles Cross paused from climbing the stairs to join Wang in presenting the oversized $50,000 pink check – comprised of the Seahawks $25K ground handling fees and Delta’s match – to local researcher and BCRF representative, Dr. Nora Disis.
“Attending this event helped me put names with faces to people that are actually donating money to my research, which is so impactful for me,” Disis said. “And it’s inspiring that Delta allows its employees to come up with ideas and bring these opportunities to life.”
Since 2005, Delta has been supporting Breast Cancer Research Foundation, raising over $24 million and funding 88 different research projects. Every October, Delta recognizes Breast Cancer Awareness Month through various initiatives that recognize survivors, while also raising money via in-flight and online sales.Since 2009, the NFL has decked out its fields, sidelines, and players in pink every October to raise awareness and funds for breast cancer screenings and education, and in 2017 they renamed the program, Crucial Catch, with the initiative expanded to represent multiple cancers that can be detected early through routine health screenings.