AirTran Airways Partners with Mike Ditka’s Gridiron Greats to Assist Retired NFL Athletes in Need

January 29, 2009

- Partnership Designed to Aid Former Players -

TAMPA, Fla., Jan. 29 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — AirTran Airways, a subsidiary of AirTran Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: AAI), today announced its partnership with Mike Ditka’s Gridiron Greats Assistance Fund (GGAF), a nonprofit organization that provides financial assistance, social services and medical care to retired NFL players in dire need.

As part of the partnership which was announced during Gridiron Greats Championship Week in Tampa, AirTran Airways will provide air travel to Gridiron Greats to transport players in need of medical care to specialized medical facilities around the country. Many of the players in need that the GGAF supports have severe medical issues that require specialized care, which is not readily available to them.

“Football is one of America’s favorite pastimes and AirTran Airways partnered with the Gridiron Greats to give something back to those who dedicated their best years — often to the detriment of their own health — to the sport that brings such a thrill to fans,” said Tad Hutcheson, vice president of marketing and sales for AirTran Airways. “By partnering with the Gridiron Greats, we are helping retired players receive the medical attention they need to regain their health and return to living normal lives.”

“Many retired players don’t live in areas where they can receive the specialized medical treatment that is required to improve their lives,” said Mike Ditka, Gridiron Greats board member. “It’s a common misconception that all football players are wealthy and can take care of themselves. Many of the players we help can’t afford something to eat, let alone pay for a trip to the doctor’s office. That’s why we are so thankful to AirTran Airways for this partnership which will help many former players get the help they need.”

GGAF focuses on the humanitarian side of post-football related issues, providing hands-on assistance to help retired players deal with hardships they may face after their football career ends. Many members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame and other NFL legends also support the GGAF mission.

AirTran Airways, a subsidiary of AirTran Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: AAI), a Fortune 1000 company, ranked number one in the 2008 Airline Quality Rating study. The airline offers coast-to-coast flights, North America’s newest all-Boeing fleet, friendly service and Business Class and complimentary XM Satellite Radio on every flight. To book a flight, visit http://www.airtran.com.

The Gridiron Greats Assistance Fund is an IRS 501(c)(3), charitable and humanitarian organization that provides financial aid and social and medical services to retired NFL players who are in dire need. The organization is overseen by Mike Ditka and a Board of Directors that includes: Gale Sayers, Kyle Turley, several professionals, and an advisory committee including Harry Carson, Michael Irvin, Daryl Johnston, Matt Birk and others. There are over 150 retired players and coaches who support GGAF efforts through various initiatives. Also, a multi-million dollar pro bono medical services program was recently implemented. Most of the needs of the players are created by an inadequate disability and medical system and/or player’s pension program, as well as a lack of attention paid to the issues retired players face post career and their needs. For more information on the Gridiron Greats, please visit www.gridirongreats.org.

    Media Contacts:  AirTran Airways
                     Tad Hutcheson
                     Judy Graham-Weaver
                     Cynthia Tinsley-Douglas

SOURCE AirTran Airways

Source: newswire

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