September 2023
by Mark Cassidy

Team Gleason assisted Mark with taking a wheelchair accessible hot air balloon ride. Mark was diagnosed with ALS in February 2021. With the encouragement of his caregiver, Mark has continued to have new experiences. Finding an accessible hot air balloon ride is extraordinary – the basket has one side that opens.

Getting into the basket was very easy. Simply a matter of backing into the basket and being secured by a harness and tie down straps. The ascent into the air was peaceful and quiet. The view was absolutely perfect.

Takeoff was perfect, but landing was a little rough. Landing was actually the highlight of the flight. When the basket came to a complete stop it was laying on its side and I found myself looking up into the balloon. Because I was properly secured, it didn’t cause me any fear.

As a matter of fact, I immediately wanted to do it again! The only challenge I faced was waiting on the proper wind conditions to take off.

I would absolutely encourage other ALS patients to take a hot air balloon ride.