Young cancer patients soar over Phoenix in DIRECTV blimp

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By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver

PHOENIX -- Austin Hernandez had an uplifting experience Tuesday.

"It was really awesome, and I'm glad I got to do it and got to experience it," he said.

The Valley teen was one of the few young cancer patients chosen to soar over Phoenix in the DIRECTV blimp.

"It's really crazy," he said. "It's once in a lifetime, you know? When am I ever going to ride in a blimp again?"

Hernandez was diagnosed with acute mylogenous leukemia five months ago. But thanks to treatment at Banner Thunderbird Medical Center in Glendale, things are looking up.

"He is currently, as we speak, cancer free, we think," said Wendy Pauker with the hospital's Child Life Department.

The Believe in Tomorrow Children's Foundation and DIRECTV teamed up to give critically ill children in cities across the country this once-in-a-lifetime experience.

"Believe in Tomorrow contacted Banner Thunderbird, the Child Life Department, and said that there was this wonderful opportunity, and we have a few special patients that we thought would love an opportunity like this," Pauker said.

Hernandez is grateful he was one of the kids chosen.

"Thank you for allowing me to have this experience with my brother and everyone else," he said.