Sioux Falls, SD
Hot air balloons will be soaring hundreds of feet above Sioux Falls this weekend. But this year the Great Plains Balloon Race won't just be a spectacle in the sky, it will all be for a good cause.
"It's really quiet up there in the balloon. The only thing you really hear is burners," balloonist Ryan Peskey said.
Peskey has recently taken up ballooning but six years ago he wasn't enjoying carefree flights above the city - he was sitting in a hospital with his premature newborn daughter, Charlee, who weighed just one pound and six ounces.
"She wouldn't be where she is today if it wasn't for Children's Miracle Network so that's why I kind of got into ballooning," Peskey said.
Peskey says CMN helped his family and by taking part in ballooning he's hoping to return the favor. For the first time this year the Great Plains Balloon Race will donate all proceeds to the charity.
"Children's Miracle Network also has a hot-air balloon as its symbol and so it's kind of one of those natural marriages that it's a great cause to be a part of," Great Plains Balloon Race Event Director Joel Blankers said.
The balloon race has been part of the Sioux Falls summer skyline for 39 years and organizers hope making the race a charity event will take it to the next level.
"We're looking to see what we can do to make it more significant, more meaningful, for our cause and the community," Blankers said.
That's why Peskey is not only taking up a hobby every time he takes off; he's also taking up a cause.
"We're donating all the money we can to Children's Miracle Network," Peskey said.
The Great Plains Balloon Race is raising money for CMN by selling $5 raffle tickets. For every 500 they sell they'll give away a free balloon ride.
The balloons will take off from Kenny Anderson Park at 6 p.m. Friday night, 6 a.m. Saturday morning and again at 6 p.m. Saturday night.
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