Shantell "Shannie" Pooser hasn't had it easy. In her 17 years of life, this terminally ill teen with Down syndrome has battled several health problems, but she still wanted to fulfill a special dream no matter how hard it might be.
For years, Shannie has flown between Denmark, South Carolina, to Cincinnati Children's Hospital for treatments and surgeries to combat her heart defect and a series of terminal airway defects. In 2016, Shannie underwent a major surgery that ultimately would save her life; she has laryngomalacia, tracheomalacia and tracheobronchial malacia, which makes it difficult for her breathe, obstructing 87 percent of her airways, reported CBS News.
The doctors told Shannie's mom Deanna Miller-Berry that when her daughter emerged from surgery, she would struggle to return to her old self. Miller-Berry told CBS News that she had complete faith in her daughter, because she was born a fighter.
"She came out singing 'Let It Go' from Frozen. 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,'" said Miller-Berry.
At that moment, it dawned on Miller-Berry that her beautiful daughter emanated such positive vibes and brought smiles to everyone's face around her that for however many years she might have left on this earth, she could not waste them. So Miller-Berry made a pact.
"I made a vow to God. 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," Miller-Berry said.
Mom and daughter sat down and created a bucket list for Shannie. One of the items on her list was to become a flight attendant.
“So far, we’ve been on over 57 flights. That’s including the connecting flights, as well, too,” Miller-Bery said. "She saw the flight attendant, and she was like, ‘Mommy, I want to be a flight attendant.’”
So Shannie's mom sent a letter to a friend who works as a flight attendant at American Airlines, asking if her daughter could receive airline memorabilia. She hoped it would suffice.
Instead, a pilot phoned Miller-Berry directly with a crazy idea. The family couldn't believe it!
"He said, 'We're going to give her birthday party on a Boeing jet,'" Mom said.
The first class section of the plane was packed with Shannie's friends, and local celebrities even showed up for the excursion, including their mayor. American Airlines also provided Shannie with her very own official uniform and badge, so she could dress for success as a flight attendant anytime she caught a plane to and from the hospital.
Shannie is encouraged to help the flight attendants on every flight before she has to sit down and rest. She loves to help them demonstrate the safety instructions for passengers; so far, she's been able to work four times.
So what's left on her bucket list? To meet the Obamas, dance on Ellen DeGeneres' show and go to her school's junior prom in a hot air balloon.
"I'm really in the business right now of fulfilling her bucket list," Miller-Berry said.