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Blog Posts from WWVDN

SOARing High at the 48th Annual Balloon Stampede

SOAR participants arose bright and early Thursday morning to take part in the annual Walla Walla Balloon Stampede. Attendees met at Howard-Tietan Park at 5:30 am to watch as the hot air balloons inflated and launched.

It was quite a sight to see in the crisp cool of the morning. The sunrise was beautiful and we could not have asked for better weather.

This year the WWVDN was able to work with Balloon Stampede event coordinator, Laurie Spencer, to make it possible for participants to not only see the hot air balloons, but to get to take a ride up in one as well!

We were partnered with Freedom Flight, Inc. which is "The POW/MIA Hot Air Balloon Team," and our aeronaut was Luke Cesnik. This balloon was the only balloon that had a door on its basket, which made it so that there was a balloon accessible for our participants to ride in!

SOAR participants were escorted in groups of two by a Freedom Flight team member into the basket of the balloon. From there, the pilot activated the burner and riders ascended approximately 80 feet into the sky.

Afterwards, our group walked down to Trinity Baptist Church, where they were served a delicious hot pancake breakfast. Thank you to Trinity Baptist for always opening your doors and allowing us to host this breakfast in your building.

This was a very joyous and unique experience for our participants. We are thankful for all the amazing experiences and opportunities that our community members are opening up to us and to other individuals with disabilities. 

A very special thanks to Laurie Spencer, Freedom Flight Inc., Luke Cesnik and his ballooning team! You made the day for so many who are often not included or cannot attend due to accessibility - WE APPRECIATE YOU!

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