This blog post was updated on February 17, 2016.

The wait is over!

After sifting through 2,500 entries, and shedding more than a few tears—we’re finally revealing the winners of the CheapOair #HomeAwaits Holiday Contest to you all!

Here are their heartwarming stories.

Watch the Video

Home is: The Warmth of a Tight-knit Community

 “It would mean so much to both him and me”. Laurie

Joshua and Laurie Smith our Grand Prize Winners

Recently married Laurie Smith caught our eye with her impassioned plea to fly her and husband Joshuahome for Christmas for the first time in eight years. Joshua works in non-prof, urban settings where he’s championed the causes of the less fortunate for almost 20 years.

“Every year, he was either hosting Christmas for people who would otherwise not get to celebrate or […] his non-profit salary was just not enough to cover the trip,” said Laurie. Choosing to provide cheer and much needed sustenance to Baltimore’s poor, Joshua’s non-profit work involved living among, and helping, the homeless. Not only have they started their own non-profit organization, but Joshua and Laurie also work tirelessly to stop sex trafficking in one of the worst areas of Baltimore.

So, where did he get this love for social justice?

Joshua credits his mother, grandmother, and his uncle Lester. “Mom’s  a retired, inner-city school teacher who spent a lot of her own money on others,” he said, “and Granny…  she’s the 80-something-years-old, breast cancer survivor, and mall-walker,” said Joshua fondly. Uncle Lester is a teacher and master carpenter who runs a family bible study for going on 17 years. Joshua says he relies on his family and friends for spiritual and emotional support in his life.

He and Laurie had been unable to share the holidays with his family in Milwaukee—until now! We thought Laurie and Joshua – the givers – couldn’t be more deserving of a trip back home for the holidays, and we think you’ll agree when you watch what happened.


 It’s: Strengthening Childhood Bonds

“My fondest childhood memories revolve around my Dad.” Karen

Karen Shaughnessy and Dad

Brooklyn native, Karen Shaughnessy moved away to Oklahoma when she married in the eighties, leaving behind her beloved dad in New York.

Karen, who has a sister in Long Island, reminisced about growing up in Brooklyn as “Daddy’s little girl.” Watch the reunion.

Our house was not fancy but it was warm and our clothes weren’t the newest, but they were clean. Our vacations were mostly local but boy were they fun. He saw to all of this. He worked several jobs and I never once heard him complain. 

Her father is now seventy seven and overcame many obstacles, including cancer; twice. He’s also lost vision in one eye and is now unable to travel.

Due to financial setbacks, over the years, she and husband Rick could not afford the trip though they longed to visit him.

With Dad in ill health and unable to travel to her, Karen reached out to us for a little help. Since it’s been seven years since she last saw him and 33 years of Christmases apart, we were only too happy to oblige.



Home is: The Joy of New Traditions

 “This is a huge moment for all of us”. Charlene

Charlene and Brent Adamson

Homesick Charlene Adamson had some big news and was desperate to share it with her family! Having moved away from Cleveland some years ago, Charlene and hubby Brent found themselves just too busy with their life in Illinois to make it home.

From a close knit family with one older sister and three younger brothers, Charlene longed to spend Christmas with her siblings and her mom and dad.  Having lived away from family for almost 10 years, she missed out on important family milestones and events.

But as fate would have it, this year Charlene and Brent would have a milestone to announce that would forever change their lives.

“We’d love to make it home to tell my parents about their first grandchild that is on the way.”

Charlene’s dream was to see the looks on her loved one’s faces, when she announced that she and Brent—are expecting a baby! Take a look at the reaction!




Watch all three of these remarkable stories here, and share the joy and emotion that traveling home for the holidays can bring.

HomeAwaits Winners

Are you traveling home for the holidays? Let us know how you plan to spend the season in the comments below.

11 Responses

  1. Charessa

    Thank you Cheapoair for this opportunity I’ve never entered in a contest like this before. Congratulations to the blessed winners!
    Still it is heartbreaking to not be able to go home.

  2. Alfredo

    All the winners live here in the US and all wants to visit their love ones also here in the US.Dont get me wrong,but why picked people who live here also?i mean they can drive if they really want to.Why not choose an entry whose love ones live outside of US? I’m just confused.Theres a lot of heartwarming story submitted by people who whose love ones live outside the US and wanted to be with them this Christmas,don’t tell me that you guys did not find one who met the criteria.If you guys picked even just one of those entry,that will make a big difference and impact for the credibility of these contest.You should have wrote a rule that
    people whose love ones live outside the US is not accepted.
    Just my two cents.This is a nice contest but the way you picked the winners were somewhat questionable and unfair.Im not bitter because there’s a lot of good story submitted by people whose love ones live outside the US and it’s hard to believe that none of them met the criteria that you’re looking for.
    Congratulations to all the winners and I hope that next time there will be diversity in the list of winners.
    Merry Cristmas to all!

    • Morly Cowan

      Hi Alfredo,

      Thanks for commenting.
      The contest was open to people within the US. This was stated in the Terms & Conditions, but I realize we should have said this somewhere on the contest page for all to see. Thanks for pointing this out.

      We were moved by the stories and wished we could have helped everyone, regardless of where they lived.
      We’d like to do something like this again next year. If you have ideas on what we should do or how we can do better next time, please feel free to share.

      We appreciate your feedback.

      Happy Holidays

  3. Annesha Burrell

    It’s so wonderful you did that for these families. Thank you for sending them home for the holidays.

    • Morly Cowan

      Hi Annesha,
      Glad you enjoyed our winners stories.

      Thanks for your comments. Happy Holidays.

  4. Lynn Dundas

    I wish I had known there was a contest I would have entered I haven’t had a Christmas with my Brother in 28 years last year he was in an accident and was on life support for 2 months when he came out of it the Doctors told me he had some brain damage
    he lives in Las Vegas and I am in Ontario Canada maybe next year I can have a Christmas with him Glad that you could do this for some family’s that need to have their love ones near at this time of year My hat goes off to you for doing this

    • Morly Cowan

      Hi Lynn,
      Thanks for commenting.
      I’m sorry to hear about your brother and hope he has a speedy recovery. Hope you get to see him soon :).

      Happy Holidays

    • Morly Cowan

      Thanks Cassandra.
      We enjoyed doing this – it honestly was one of the more memorable highlights of this season for us.

      Happy Holidays

  5. Nadia Sinous Pierre

    My fiance Emmanuel St Louis and I been engaged for a year now. But due to financial issues I am not able to go to Santo Domingo to visit him. Also we are planning to get married in February 2016. But I have to travel to go down and have the wedding in Haiti so our families and friends could be there in our wedding day. Don’t know how but hoping for the best.


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About The Author

Brian Lees is a Content Writer and Editor with 21 years of experience in the travel industry and a lifetime of personal traveling memories. Originally from Scotland, Brian is a big fan of soccer, family, friends, and food. He's now happily settled on South Shore Long Island with a wife, 2 kids, and a dog to keep him busy! Between trips to Jones Beach, he's happy to keep the CheapOair blog filled with travel insights for you all.