September 30th would have been Cameron’s 8th birthday. It was our first without him here. To celebrate, family and friends all over participated in their own balloon launches very similar to the one we did at his memorial last December. We were inundated with photos and videos of people sending balloons up to Cameron in heaven. I know he was enjoying the show.
I realized today that I have yet to share the outcome of those launches. Just like the first (and only) balloon that was found last year, we got some amazing stories! I know I told my husband it would be cool if there were 8 balloons found. Guess what? That’s exactly what we got. More signs that the universe has a plan and there is no such thing as a coincidence.
The first launch took place at his school. Everyone there has been so extremely supportive of our family. Their idea was to celebrate with a balloon launch and cupcakes. All of the kids filled the car line driveway with a balloon in hand. We counted off and watched the balloons soar. My oldest daughter was so excited her friends could celebrate with her.
After that, friends and family from all over the country held their own launches. Photos and videos flooded our Facebook feed. Everyone wearing their green shirts in his honor.
It was a windy day here in Central Florida. In fact, it started pouring just as we let go of our balloons at home. I’m pretty sure that’s why none of the balloons launched from Florida made it very far. The furthest we were able to determine any balloon traveled this time was around 200 miles.
These are the stories associated with each reported balloon:
- The first balloon message was received just hours after it was launched.We had an email from Laura in Longwood (another suburb of Orlando). She had found a popped green balloon with a message attached to it. Based on the description we identified it as a balloon that was launched from our school earlier that morning. It was received just days after she and her husband got confirmation of their first pregnancy after being told they likely would need fertility treatments.
- The second email came in a little later in the day. It came from Apopka (another suburb of Orlando). They had found a green mylar balloon in their yard. Based on the details, we assume that was one we had launched from our front yard.
- A couple of days later, we had our third email. A balloon had been found on the beach just north of Lexington, Michigan. We are unsure of the exact launch location. Not all balloons had a location listed. However, we are not aware of anyone in Michigan that launched balloons.
- That same day we received our fourth email. Kathy explained that her husband had found a balloon. It was next to their pond on a new property they had just purchased in Greenfield, IL. Their daughter is 8. The same age Cameron would have been on this birthday. The location this balloon launched from was Romeoville, IL. My cousin Andrea lives there. She was excited to hear one of their balloons had been found because their balloons had accidentally gotten away from them before they could do their formal release. We laughed as Andrea had told me she tried to run after them but couldn’t catch any. We knew that made Cameron smile. One of her daughter’s was devastated the balloons were lost. We consider this find a happy ending for her.
- Almost 3-weeks went by before our next message. JJ had found a balloon that landed in the baseball fields of Unionville, PA, a few weeks prior. He said he tied it to the back fence and left it. Then that morning he found it in his yard and sent us an email. The photo attached was of a green mylar balloon. Based on the message we know it was released by my Aunt Diane and her family in Boyertown, PA.
- This time four more days passed before a message. Erin told us that over the weekend she and her husband had been hiking on their property in Roscomon County when they found a balloon. It was off the trail, but they made the effort to grab what they thought was trash and take it out of the woods. Their son (almost 11) pushed them to email us about the balloon. In their message, Erin expressed that their property was quite large and they did not feel it was an accident that they found it. Their walk was on her husband’s birthday. We are unsure of the launch location of this one so we haven’t been able to tie it to anyone in particular.
- This message just came in November 12th. Tammy wrote about a green balloon 1 mile west of Glasgow, IL. Their farmhand, Chad, found it while he was out working in the field. He told her he had a great day and contributes that to Cameron. We aren’t sure of this launch location.
- The final email came in November 14th. Kathleen found the label from a balloon in her yard. It was out laying in plain view as if it was meant to be there for her. She too lost a son. Scott (her 19 year old son) had died on December 18th. She commented that this year will be the first time they will be able to enjoy Christmas again. They will be celebrating as first time grand parents. The location of this label was DeBary, FL. We are unsure of the exact launch (though likely within the Orlando area).
This balloon launch has become a tradition for us. It’s a fun game we play with Cameron. Where will the balloons be found next?
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