Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Franklin woman battling cancer takes hot air balloon ride

From BGDaily News:  Franklin woman battling cancer takes hot air balloon ride

Linda Denton stands in the middle of the basket, wide-eyed and grinning. As the balloon lifts off, she shouts and waves.

Denton’s first hot air balloon ride today was far from her bravest adventure. In addition to raising five children, the 64-year-old Franklin woman was a race car driver – the first female driver at Fairgrounds Motor Speedway in Louisville, she said.

But Denton began her most daunting battle when she was diagnosed with lung cancer four months ago and given up to six months to live. That’s when she decided to seek help from Hospice of Southern Kentucky. She never dreamed it would lead to a small basket and a giant, multicolored balloon.

Todd Dixon, spokesman at Hospice of Southern Kentucky, was thinking of unique activities for patients when he thought of hot air balloon rides. Service One Credit Union sponsored the ride with a $200 donation. Hospice initially offered the ride to an 81-year-old patient, who backed out. That’s when they called Denton, who initially declined the offer.

“I said, ‘No, I can’t,’ ” she said. “ ‘I’ve got something to do.’ ”

But her daughter, Teresa Dallas, eventually convinced her mother to give it a try. On a chilly morning, Dallas, of Franklin, choked back tears as she led her mother across the yard at Otte Golf Center, where the enormous balloon was inflating. Since learning of her mother’s condition, Dallas had been praying for one last opportunity like this, she said.

“They gave my mom three to six months,” she said, “and I want to remember everything about it I can.”
A handful of people stood around the basket, watching the flame blast and the balloon slowly inflate. Some were other passengers, and some were there for Denton. David Hall, a hospice nurse, stood nearby to watch Denton’s big moment.

“People think about hospice as dying, but it’s not. It’s about living,” Hall said. “It’s about helping them to have good days.”

Dallas was afraid that her mother might be too weak for the ride, but once she saw the balloon, Denton was determined to make the trip. She grabbed one of the metal bars around the burner, balancing herself as she climbed into the basket.

She held onto pilot Doug Robertson as he pulled her into the basket. As she found her footing, Denton immediately asked Robertson how many balloon trips he has taken. She giggled when he joked that it was only his third trip.

Actually, Robertson, of eHotAir.com Ballooning Adventures in Bowling Green, has flown about 350 times. He’s worked with organizations such as Hospice before, he said.

“A lot of times ballooning is on a person’s bucket list,” he said.

Hot air ballooning was never on Denton’s bucket list, but she decided to give it a chance. Her eyes grew wide as she watched Robertson crank up the burner.

“I’m nervous,” she said. “My knees are shaking.”

But she couldn’t hide her excitement as the balloon slowly floated into the air. She waved and hugged her daughter, who asked her mother if she was feeling OK. Denton nodded and smiled.

“I feel like Oz,” Dallas shouted as the balloon climbed into the clouds.


1 comment:

Aiden Brown said...

I love hot air balloon rides. It really thrills me. Great fun has surrounded me after reading the blog. Thanks for sharing it.

Hot Air Balloon Trip