Over twenty years ago Pat Murphy, the founder of the foundation, began volunteering by sharing his love for ballooning with camps for special needs children (Camp Reach for the Sky, Camp Ronald McDonald) as well as for numerous school classes and church groups. Along with great joy, Pat also experienced frustration at the inability to give rides to children in wheelchairs. He vowed to come up with a solution.
After seven long years of work, the custom wheelchair basket that Pat had envisioned was finally designed, built and, most importantly, approved for flight under the strict guidelines of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The inspiration for the envelope’s artwork was a heart-felt drawing by Robby Medina, a childhood cancer survivor from Camp Reach for the Sky. Pat had the envelope and a traditional basket produced near Barcelona, Spain by UltraMagic.
Joining forces with other volunteers Pat met at the children’s camps, he created Reach for the Stars Hot Air Balloon Foundation to help make the experience accessible to all, especially those with physical disabilities. The foundation grew each year as Pat continued volunteering immeasurable hours around his regular work schedule.
In 2012, came the fulfillment of Pat’s dream to add a Special Shape balloon. Based on the same drawing used in our first custom balloon, the Special Shape features a child seated in a wheelchair reaching up for a star. Pat’s hope is that it will bring awareness to the needs of people with physical challenges and remind everyone who sees the balloon to always reach for the stars, regardless of our circumstances.
In 2015, Kim Lynch took over primary responsibility of Reach For The Stars Hot Air Balloon Foundation. It is our hope that we can expand meeting the needs of adults and children with physical challenges.