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- Editor's Note -

Blimp Ride Creates Special Memories

By Tommy Horton

It was to be a rare chance to ride on Syngenta’s Avicta blimp on a beautiful sunny Saturday morning during the Mid-South Farm & Gin Show in Memphis, Tenn. It turned out to be that, and much more. Cotton Farming Production Manager Kathy Killingsworth and I were invited to ride along on the hour-long trip from the Millington airport to downtown Memphis.

To say that the experience met our expectations is an understatement. We took photos, felt the wind knock us around, listened to air traffic controllers talk to our pilot Terry Dillard and generally felt like teenagers on a rollercoaster ride at the county fair.

But the real memory was created when we observed the next group of passengers who boarded the blimp after we landed. As part of Syngenta’s promotion, the blimp rides were coordinated with the “Believe In Tomorrow” Children’s Foundation and its “Hands-On Adventures” program. The goal is to provide a positive experience for chronically-ill children and their parents.

The lucky recipients were three-year-old Cole Kaspar, his father Nathan and mother Wendy. Cole is a patient at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis and is currently in remission after being diagnosed with neuroblastoma cancer. During the past 12 months, the youngster has had a bone marrow transplant, 11 rounds of chemotherapy and a nine-hour surgery. Did we say that Cole was brave? A blimp ride was a walk in the park after everything he’s been through.

According to his father, Cole was apprehensive about getting on the blimp – just like the grownups. But once he overcame his initial fears, he was wide-eyed with excitement.

“It was one of those special days for our entire family,” said Nathan. “Cole was nervous for a few minutes and then he was fine and having a great time. It’s a day we won’t forget for a long time.”

The Kaspar family moved to Memphis about a year ago when Cole was first diagnosed with cancer. Since Nathan is a Navy pilot, he was transferred from his base in San Diego to the Millington Naval Air Station. The entire family has received free housing through St. Jude.

Sometimes we find examples of courage in different situations. Talking to Nathan Kaspar afterwards was as heart-warming as anything a person could have imagined. The Kaspars probably appreciated the opportunity for their son to have such a special day. The truth is, we were the lucky ones.

We had a chance to watch a brave three-year-old boy and his courageous parents. It was a perfect day for everybody.

If you have comments, send them to: Editor, Cotton Farming Magazine, 5118 Park Ave., Suite 111, Memphis, Tenn., 38117. Or send e-mail to: thorton@onegrower.com.

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