Balloons Do More Than Just Fly, They Raise Awareness

The Proclaimers said they would walk 500 miles for the one they love.

This balloon does one better.

In a blaze of purple, 600 balloons were released in the UK in September 2015. Balloon 316 sailed the farthest. In fact, it made it all the way to Northern Switzerland (a 500 mile trek), all in the name of one little boy named Bertie.

On Valentine’s Day, 2014, Bertie came into the world—his parents’ newest love. Unfortunately, the day wasn’t completely joyful.

The labor was difficult, culminating when Bertie’s mother’s uterus ruptured, causing Bertie to go 21 minutes without oxygen.

For reference, 21 minutes is about the full-length of a commercial-less episode of your favorite sitcom. You can walk one mile in 21 minutes. Workout in 21 minutes.

And in 21 minutes, Bertie and his family’s lives were changed forever.

Now, the 18-month-old toddler has been diagnosed with Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE) grade III, a brain injury caused by lack of oxygen.

A loving, overall happy child, Bertie requires 24/7 care. He suffers from dystonia and cerebral palsy, and can only eat through a feeding tube because of an inability to swallow.

The family hopes to get their son the best care possible, even though they don’t have the funds to travel and commit to the special therapies he needs.

Luckily, hope is still alive for Bertie.

The legal firm Pinney Talfourd Solicitors, where Bertie’s grandparent works, has dedicated their charity of the year to Bertie’s story. Partnering with Tree of Hope, another charity, people are raising funds through office campaigns, bake sales, and yes, even the balloon race where Balloon 316 took first place.

But Bertie is the true winner. Out of the 30,000 pounds necessary for stem cell therapy, the community has raised over 22,000.

They’ve gone 500 miles. Help them go 500 more.

Kiki Jones

Kiki Jones

Kiki’s family loves to say, “People are like a baking project. At some point, they’re just done and they’re who they’re going to be.” Well, Kiki still has some baking to do, and she learns a lot from her loved ones living with chronic conditions, including mental illness and Behcet’s disease. With a BA in English, she’s using her skills to tell the stories of people like them.

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