The Rotary Club and Rotary Foundation of Cincinnati marked its 25th year of providing free hot air balloon rides for children and adults with disabilities at Stepping Stones’ Camp Allyn in Batavia. Rotarians help the ground crew inflate the balloon, tether it and steady the basket as riders leave walkers and wheelchairs behind to soar on the breeze.
“It’s an incredible feeling to see the excitement on their faces as they start to rise,” said Mark Soupene of Loveland, who chairs the balloon ride project for Rotary and has been volunteering at the balloon rides with his children since 1997.
“It’s become a family tradition. My children grew up seeing the importance of helping other people,” he said.
The Rotary Club of Cincinnati owns Camp Allyn in Batavia, which is operated by Stepping Stones, Inc. to provide camp, recreation, respite and independence-building experiences for children and adults with disabilities. The Rotary Club and Rotary Foundation of Cincinnati started the hot air balloon ride at camp in 1993. The Rotary Foundation pays for the balloon company and Rotarians provide the volunteer hands.