Some people are born to defy the odds.
Shantell “Shannie” Pooser is one of those people whose fighting spirit continues to astound and impress everyone who meets her. Shannie is only 17, but due to severe health problems, she has suffered more than any teen should ever have to endure. Now, her indefatigable attitude is on full display as she lives out her dream of landing her first job.
Shannie has Down syndrome and was born with several health problems that forced her to spend much of her life in and out of hospitals. Shannie has a heart defect and a series of terminal airway defects, but a major surgery in 2016 essentially saved her life and gave her new ambition to achieve her life’s goals as soon as possible.
Shannie’s mom, Deanna Miller-Berry, said her daughter continues to surprise doctors by beating the odds at every turn. In fact, after her surgery, hospital staff were blown away by how tough and alert she was as she emerged from the anesthesia.
“She came out singing ‘Let It Go’ from Frozen,” Deanna said. “The surgeons were standing around like, ‘We’ve never had anybody come out of this type of surgery talking … this girl is singing ‘Let It Go’ in ICU.'”
Deanna was so amazed by her daughter’s fortitude that it changed her whole perspective. “I made a vow to God,” Deanna explained. “I said, ‘Shannie, no matter what you want to do when you get better, we’ll make a bucket list and I’ll make it happen. If you live long enough where the doctors can fix you 100 percent, I’ll do my best to make your dreams come true.'”
Once she’d recovered, Shannie did just that. At the very top of her bucket list was a goal to become a flight attendant, followed closely by meeting the Obamas and dancing on Ellen Degeneres’ show. Shannie, who lives in South Carolina, had gotten the idea to become a flight attendant after all of the flights she took to see specialists in Cincinnati, Ohio.
“We became friends with a lot of the flight attendants and a lot of pilots, and she just kept saying, ‘Mommy, I want to be a flight attendant,'” said Deanna. Although she knew the odds were slim, she sent a letter to a friend who works as a flight attendant at American Airlines. All Deanna requested was that the airline send her daughter some free memorabilia, but they went far above and beyond that modest request.
Instead of sending a box of swag, an American Airlines pilot called Shannie and asked if they could throw her a birthday party. “He said, ‘We’re going to give her birthday party on a Boeing jet.'”
In October, Shannie turned 17 surrounded by American Airlines crew members. The team had filled the first class cabin with all of Shannie’s friends, plus a few local celebrities like Columbia mayor Stephen K. Benjamin.
Shannie had the time of her life hobnobbing with members of the crew, and she felt right at home on board the jet.
The birthday party far surpassed both mother and daughter’s expectations, but the airline hadn’t finished making Shannie’s dreams come true just yet. Days after her party, American Airlines sent her an official flight attendant uniform and badge so that she can dress up and be an honorary flight attendant whenever she flies to Cincinnati.
Now when Shannie goes to the hospital in Ohio, she helps the flight attendants with the safety demonstration before sitting down to rest during the flight. She’s already worked in uniform four times since her birthday!
Shannie needs to have follow-up surgery due to growths that came back after her life-saving operation a few years ago, but she’s not about to let that slow her down for one minute. Her mom remains steadfast in her mission to help Shannie cross more items off of her bucket list, including getting her a hot air balloon ride to prom.
In the meantime, Shannie will keep fighting to accomplish all of her goals while keeping her health problems in check. Both she and her mother hope that once she turns 18, she might become officially employed as a flight attendant by the airline that has already given their family so much hope and joy.
We have a feeling that this is one wish that may just come true for this special young lady!
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