Austin Relay balloon touches down in CanadaPublished 6:25am Tuesday, July 30, 2013
When one of many purple Relay for Life balloons took flight Saturday evening as part of the cancer research fundraiser’s opening ceremony, none of the participants expected the whim of the winds would make it an international traveler.
Dan Kains contacted Linda Baier, Relay’s event chair, around 5:30 p.m. Sunday via the Mower County Relay for Life Facebook page to inform her he found the balloon touching down more than 830 miles from where it left the ground.
“I was out golfing at the Paris Grand golf course in Paris, Ontario, Canada, and one of your balloons floated into my hands at the eighth tee,” Kains wrote. “Quite the journey for a little balloon in a day.”
According to GoogleMaps, traveling by land from Austin to Paris, Ontario, would take 12.5 hours by car, or about 250 hours on foot.
While all balloons survivors released during Relay had names and messages on them, Kains reported this one was unmarked.
Baier said that balloon was one of the leftovers that had not been marked by a survivor, but were still released into the sky Saturday.
With so many trees surrounding Bandshell Park, Baier said the balloons often get caught on their way up. There have been some notable journeys in the past, however.
“We had one in 2003 that ended up in Pennsylvania,” she said.
Last year, a balloon was found in Michigan, and it’s not uncommon for some to land just over the state border in Iowa. Each one has a link to the Mower Relay website, so those who discover the balloons can notify local participants.
Participants had raised about $81,000 leading up to the event, then pulled more in during Relay itself. The total is now at $93,000, though more donations are on the way, Baier said. Teams have until the end of August to contribute.
“We really want to thank the community and the businesses supporting us for over 20 years of doing this,” she said, adding she hopes Relay returns bigger and better next year.