"Balloon Glow" raises money for local charity

Today (Oct. 18) was the opening day for the fourth annual "Up in the Air for Family Care" Balloon Rally, which culminates with a mass ascension from the rim of Palo Duro Canyon. Tonight's rally at the Don Harrington Discovery Center featured live music, balloon operators, and games and activities for all ages.

And while balloons are cool, the rally ultimately serves as a fundraiser for the Family Care Foundation, which helps people across our area meet their medical needs. The foundation was established in 1999, and in its 15 years of existence, they have helped thousands of area residents get the care they need, like prescription drugs, hearing aids, and wheelchairs. Chairman David Jones says the Amarillo Independent School district regularly sends low-income or uninsured kids their way for everything from eyeglasses to antibiotics. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 26.8% of Amarillo residents are uninsured, and 16.9% live below the poverty line. And while there are many similar organizations, the Family Care Foundation is unique in that it focuses mainly on one-time expenses like insurance deductibles or dental work.

"We're there to get people from one place to the other," says Jones. "For example, someone's discharged from a hospital , and their insurance doesn't cover an IV treatment that they need when they get home, and we step in and we provide that."

As of this year, the foundation has provided more than $1.5 million in aid to our area, and all donations stay in the area.

"I love the opportunity to take part in it, because we're an all-volunteer organization. Giving back and being able to take care of people's needs, I think is something everyone should be doing. It's part of life, and it's great to be able to participate in that through this foundation."

The festivities will continue througout the weekend, with one sunrise ascension from the High Plains Children's Home Saturday (Oct. 19) morning, and another ascension from Palo Duro Canyon on Sunday (Oct. 20).

To learn how you can help, follow the link attached to this story.