Andrew Ross, 8, has been in a fight for his life since February when he was diagnosed with pancreatic endocrine tumor. The cancer is so rare it often times requires he and his family to travel to get treatment in other parts of the country.
"There really isn't a treatment plan or algorithm to follow," said Andrew's mother Kristi Ross.
Months ago, Amber Hensley heard about Andrew from a friend. And from her check-in desk at the Southwest Airlines counter at Hobby Airport, she was determined to do something to make his trips for treatment more special.
"We figure this little family deserved a big welcome home especially after everything that they had been through," said Hensley.
Hensley went all out. Overtime the Ross family traveled, Hensley made signs to encourage little Andrew. He saw it at every turn in the airport and in the aircraft. Hensley arranged a special visit with the airplane pilots. They let Andrew sit in the pilot's seat, make announcements and even let him wave goodbye through an open window in the pilot's cabin.
"It's so nice that they would do all of the stuff for me," said Andrew.
During a connection in St. Louis, a gate manager surprised Andrew, who was just out of surgery, by singing a gospel song on the PA system.
"After a long hard journey to see people that love us, to welcome us home like that just meant so much," said Kristi Ross.
When Andrew finally got home, Hensley organized for all of his friends to be at the terminal gate for a welcome home pep rally.
"I'm just really surprised that they really care about me that much, and that they would actually do that. I'm glad that they want to help me and support me," said Andrew.
"It's a hard journey. But you know when someone goes out of their way to put a smile on your kid's face, you really could not ask for more right," said Kristi Ross.
Hensley also had two bouts with cancer.
Kristi Ross is also dealing with her youngest daughter who has down syndrome and has had six open heart surgeries to date.
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