Longview Hosts Disabled Balloon Rides

A group of physically challenged East Texans gathered at Longview's Drug Emporium parking lot for a chance to enjoy the freedom of balloon flight in a special wheelchair accessible balloon called "Fly The Rainbow".

"It gives you a little feel of independence, a feel of normalcy, gets you up there," says Judy Moffitt who was paralyzed in a 1994 auto accident. For many, it's a welcome change from everyday life, where their physical disability often presents difficulties in the simplest function.

"There are limitations, to a lot of different things including accessibility to stores, so when you get something like this and you get to get out and do what everybody else does, it makes you feel like the old you again," said Linda Arnold who was paralyzed in an auto accident eight years ago.

Through the efforts of local business people, the balloon was brought in for tether rides. "It's just wonderful.  A lot of people in the community need this, need a little fun," said Jesse Labay of Knock-Knock Industries.

They can still feel their legs, remember what it was like to walk and run. Though high winds cancelled the balloon rides today, for many, it didn't matter.

"To get out there get off the couch, enjoy the day and feel alive!" Moffitt said. R
Bob Hallmark, reporting.