TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – A little girl’s dream came true for many years without anyone realizing it. That is until just recently.
Grace Kelly, a 4-year-old girl from the UK, had always wanted to fly on an airplane, but Grace had a “very rare liver cancer” and earned wings of her own before she could live out her dream. At least, that’s what her family thought until maintenance crews with Frontier Airlines found something unexpected while doing a maintenance check on an airplane at Tampa International Airport.
While checking up on the plane, “Orville the Red Cardinal,” Tampa Airborne Maintenance Mechanics Cullen Johns, and Shaun Brown found a letter and a photo behind one of the lavatory mirrors.
The photo was of none other than little Grace riding in what appeared to be a plane on an amusement park ride. Frontier Airlines said the photo was taken shortly before she passed.
The note that accompanied the photo explained how she’d never had the chance to fly on an airplane before she passed. Johns and Brown said that the picture and note were slipped behind the mirror back in 2014 by a family member when the plane still belonged to Monarch Airlines in the UK.
In a Facebook post, Frontier said Grace’s family member left the note on the plane so “she could have the chance to fly on an airplane.”
The note read: “Our dear grandchild, Grace, 4 1/2 years old. Taken from us in 3 weeks with a very rare liver cancer. (November 2014). Our little angel had always wanted to fly – so she flies with Monarch – hidden away for as long as possible. Happy travels darling Grace, you made our lives just perfect for all too short a time. God bless. XXX, Grandma + Grandad.”
The airline added that after Brown and Johns found the letter, they returned the items where they were found so “Grace could keep flying!”
While the note and Grace’s photo were returned to the spot it was placed so long ago, Frontier Flight Attendants Amy “AC” Proctor and Lisa Gallegos were able to connect with Grace’s mom Jen Kelly, who said it feels special to know that her 4-year-old’s picture has been flying for so many years.
“We lost Grace when she was just four years old. She never had the chance to fly in a plane. It feels so special to know that Grace’s photo has been flying for so many years and continues to do so, thanks to Frontier Airlines. We are so grateful they have tracked us down to let us know. Thank you so much to everyone that helped make this possible,” Jen said.
Jen also added that Grace’s wish was to help other children, which led to the founding of the “Grace Kelly Childhood Cancer Trust.”
The trust fund provides research for childhood cancers, supports families, writes medical publications and teaches the signs and symptoms of childhood cancer because “early diagnoses save lives.” The airline said Grace’s family is passionate about raising awareness about the signs and symptoms of cancer.
For more information about the Grace Kelly Childhood Cancer Trust, visit here.
Since Cardinals are often believed to be a sign from a loved one who’s passed that’s with you/watching over you, Frontier said it’s “lovely that the plane ended up at F9 and was rebranded as Orville the Red Cardinal.”
“Our sincerest condolences go out to Grace’s family. Thank you for letting us share her story!” the Airline said.