ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The hot air balloons that fly during Balloon Fiesta are all unique in their own way. This year, one of the special shapes is taking a special message to the skies.
There’s nothing quite like it. More than 500 balloons will soar the Albuquerque skies for Balloon Fiesta next month. One of those balloons will carry a special message.
“The balloon is mostly yellow with a mostly dimensional pink ribbons protruding out of it on three different sides,” said Brian Liley.
Liley is a balloon pilot from Tennessee and will be piloting the balloon ‘Cathy’s Hope’ named after his wife.
“I was a balloonist when I met Cathy,” said Liley. “We were dating and became married for 14 years and we ballooned all the time.”
But Cathy is no longer part of his flight crew. She passed away in 2011 after battling breast cancer for seven years.
“She was an absolutely wonderful, caring, sharing person,” said Liley.
To honor her memory, Liley created the ‘Cathy’s Hope’ balloon with the breast cancer ribbon as its signature mark to bring awareness to the disease.
“The idea of the balloon was to give people hope there would be a cure one day,” said Liley, tearing up.
Liley will fly ‘Cathy’s Hope’ in this year’s Fiesta. He will add banners on the side of the balloon to put the names of people affected by breast cancer flying alongside his wife’s.
“The balloon will be meaningful to whoever sees it,” said Liley.
Liley said the first flight in the balloon a few months ago accidentally landed in the parking lot of the hospital where Cathy received her cancer treatment.