WAVELAND, MS (WLOX) - The military pararescue jumper who spent years searching for a little girl and her family that he rescued days after Hurricane Katrina is about to get his wish for a face-to-face reunion. That reunion will take place on a national television show.
We caught up with the New Orleans family that now lives in Waveland shortly before they boarded an airplane headed to Hollywood.
Lashay Brown, 13, and her mom, Shawntell, spent Monday morning preparing for the experience of a lifetime.
"My dress is in here. My shoes are up in here. Everything is in here," said Lashay.
A last minute baggage check is in order when you're about to take a 1,700 mile flight from Gulfport, MS, to Hollywood, CA.
"What we don't have, Stacey's got," said Shawntell.
Stacey Cato is a Waveland journalist who bonded with the Brown family after they found themselves overwhelmed by the national news spotlight.
"We've heard from the 'View.' We've heard from Steve Harvey from 'Inside Edition' to USA Today, 'The Real.' Just many, many national talk shows and media outlets," said Cato.
A contractual agreement between the family and the show prevents us from naming it, but Mike Maroney, pictured in a photograph seen around the world of him and a then 3-year-old Lashay, will reunite on the TV show in Los Angeles on Tuesday.
It will be the first time in 10 years the two have seen each other since Maroney's helicopter unit rescued the Brown family from the flood waters of Hurricane Katrina.
"I'm nervous about that a little bit, because I don't know what it's going to be like," said Lashay. "I'm happy to reunite with him, just a little nervous."
She said at three years old, she doesn't remember the heroic rescue but knows Maroney saved her life and the lives of her closest relatives.
"I'm going to say thank you and a few other words. I'm going to really have to think about it," said Lashay.
It's a story that has already captured the hearts of many folks around the nation who are now waiting to see the long awaited reunion.
The show will air Wednesday. Both families will return to the Coast on Wednesday night. Then, Maroney will drive to Waveland this weekend with his family.
The Giving Circle and the Wounded Warriors of South Mississippi organizations have funded several activities so the two families can get to know one another better.