60 Seconds with Shannon Kenitz

60 Seconds with Shannon Kenitz

This month we caught up with Shannon Kenitz, Executive Director of the International Hyperbaric Association, an educational and charitable organization focusing on the needs of the hyperbaric community, and this year’s American Way Road Warrior. Shannon was awarded 2,000,000 Hilton HHonors points and 1,000,000 American AAdvantage miles, which she donated to the International Hyperbaric Association.

InsideFlyer
How were you informed that you had been chosen as a finalist and winner of the American Way Road Warrior?
Shannon Kenitz
It’s funny actually. They were trying to get a hold of me, but I was on a short flight to Wisconsin. Before the flight, I was in Chicago in the Admirals club at the airport and I ran into two women I knew who asked me if I had heard anything about the contest and I said, “You guys, there’s thousands of people that do that, I’m not going to get chosen as one of the finalists.” And no sooner did I land after that 22 minute flight, and I was informed in an email on my Blackberry that I was one of the finalists. After the voting had gone on, I was called and told that I was the Grand Prize winner! They also said that not only was I winner, but that nobody even came close to me in the voting, so it was pretty cool.

IF
Tell us a little about the photo scavenger hunt you took part in for the competition.
Kenitz
They gave us different clues for different airports and then based on the clues, you had to go and find what you thought the clues they were hinting at and take a photo of it and hope that it’s the correct photo. I was in two of the airports that had clues during the competition. They said if you were a business traveler, you’d be in at least one of those aiports, so you didn’t have to go to all of them. You just had to get one right. Thankfully, I ended up getting two right.

IF
How was the trip to Puerto Rico for the American Way photo shoot?
Kenitz
Well, they told me they were going to fly me to San Juan and I thought, ‘Wait a minute, I don’t even like to fly.’ But it was incredible. They really treated us like gold. I got to bring a friend and wear jewelry and clothes I’d never be able to afford in a lifetime. They had hair, makeup, wardrobe–it was a blast. I was there for five days and it was really a cool group of people. We told American Airlines when they have the 10th anniversary, they need a spoof of (I can’t remember which reality show it is), but they should have us all come back and compete as teams.

IF
Why did you decide to donate all of your winnings from the contest to the International Hyperbarics Association?
Kenitz
I travel because of my daughter and there are just a lot of families that cannot afford the travel to different cities to treat their children. Hyperbarics treatments are not available in every city, so by the time you add in food, hotel and flight, a lot of families just can’t afford it. So I thought if I could take away two of these expenses, a lot of families would get a chance to go. I knew with the economy the way it is, a lot of families were going to have to go without Hyperbaric therapy, so this was just one way that I could give back. I’m so blessed that I have my daughter.

IF
How much do you travel per month and what do you enjoy the most about being on the road?
Kenitz
On average, I’m gone about 12 days a month. Last month, I was gone 20 out of 28 days. The best part is getting an email from a parent that says thank you so much for what you are doing. We know how much you hate flying, but thank you so much for coming here and showing us how we can help our kids.

IF
The least?
Kenitz
Being away from my two daughters. It’s very hard being away from Lilly and Grace. Also, if you read my entry, I truly am deathly afraid of flying. I mean I truly do have to sit in a window seat so I don’t have to stand up on a plane and I truly do have to take a shot of Patron before I board.

IF
What do you do during flight delays?
Kenitz
I’m having a shot of patron, on my Blackberry, and I’m usually just hanging out in the Admirals Club, working because the more work I get done on the road, the more time I get to spend with my girls when I get home.

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