When the hot-air balloon DreamShip took off at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta this month, it served as an important visual reminder that families of war veterans deserve our support and better educational opportunities.
Its design is as unique as its mission — 400 fabric panels sewn together, and 130 drawings by children featuring their dreams and aspirations. With sponsorship from the Rite Aid foundation’s KidCents program, the DreamShip was designed to raise awareness of Folds of Honor, an Oklahoma-based nonprofit organization, dedicated to providing educational scholarships to children of fallen or disabled service members.
As part of an effort toward that goal, DreamShip is on a year-long journey with flight stops between 20 and 30 locations in the nation. “We’re excited to be a part of the world’s largest hot air balloon festival, kicking off the DreamShip’s year long tour,” said Ken Martindale, Rite Aid CEO of stores and president of the Rite Aid Foundation.
With a capacity of 105,000 cubic feet–big enough to fit 405,000 standard sized basketballs, the DreamShip balloon stands eight stories tall after inflation, highlighting the artwork of children who have received scholarship from Folds of Honor. “In the past two years, we gave out more than 400 scholarships worth three million dollars and in the next three years we will be giving out four million dollars in scholarships,” said Kristin Kellum, a spokesperson for Rite Aid.
Dave Dierinzo, vice president of corporate partnerships with Folds of Honor says that the aim of Dreamship’s tour is to promote a partnership and scholarship fund between the nonprofit and Rite Aid Foundation.
The organization has so far given more than 10,000 scholarships and plans to give out 3000 more this year.
To learn more about the DreamShip, including upcoming appearances and the children being helped by DreamShip, visit www.theDreamShip.org.