March 2024
by David Dominie

Adventures look different for every person. For David, it wasn’t traveling all together with his family, it was his family traveling to be together. Team Gleason was so excited to bring David’s family to Tucson for an Adventure in the sky.

My wife and I, our two adult children, and son-in-law, awoke early to great excitement and anticipation for our dawn hot air balloon flight over the Tucson, Arizona desert. We met and traveled with our pilot and owner of Tucson Balloon Rides, Kevin, to the launch site.

We were all a little anxious not knowing quite what to expect, but Kevin quickly put us at ease with humor as he explained the procedure for the flight. 

Just seeing the process of laying the balloon out and its inflation was something to behold.  Legs akimbo entering the basket once it was upright, we set off into the sky as the sun rose, the burners pushing our ascent upwards of 2,000 feet. A bit afraid of heights and with Bulbar ALS, I had the sensation of total serenity and comfort. In fact, we all did.  
Airborne for about an hour and a half, we stood in thrall of the landscape below. We floated over some dramatic landforms, sometimes descending closely to view the myriad saguaro cacti, and a group of javelinas scampering about in the desert vegetation. Preparing for the descent, Kevin forewarned us that the basket would bounce and drag along the desert floor when we landed, telling us to hold on tightly.  Bounce it did, offering a very excitingbut safe conclusion to our flight.  We grinned widely once on the ground!   
My quest these days is to create strong family memories and this adventure more than filled the bill! The family week together was priceless, including also a raptor free-flight demonstration and touch pool at the Tucson-Sonoran Desert Museum that captivated my 4-year-old granddaughter and daughter-in-law who did not take the flight.   

Thank you, Gleason Foundation, most kindly for making our family adventure possible.