Kalamazoo will be flying a giant penguin balloon for a boy dying of cancer


A 9-year-old boy from Portland, Maine, has captured the hearts of people around the world. Jacob Thompson was diagnosed with stage four neuroblastoma in 2014, and his prognosis is not good. His family said he might not make it to Christmas, so they are celebrating early by asking everyone on social media to send Jacob Christmas cards.

Even though Jacob is nearly 1,000 miles away from Michigan, there are plans to honor him this weekend at the Holiday Parade in Kalamazoo. However, there is one small hiccup that must be overcome for the plan to become a reality.

Long-time Kalamazoo Holiday Parade volunteer Jason Fox and others came up with the plan to honor Jacob and bring joy to parade fans. Because Jacob’s favorite things are penguins, a special penguin balloon was created and will float through the streets of Kalamazoo.

“This penguin balloon is going to be special because it is a helium balloon, and it will be the first helium balloon back in Kalamazoo in several years,” Fox said.

The 18-foot-tall penguin balloon for Jacob will not only bring joy to those in our area, but Kalamazoo will be sending that joy all the way to Maine.

“The people of Kalamazoo love him. We’re thinking of him, and we’ll get the video [of the penguin] to him,” Fox said.

There is, however, one major snag, the plans to provide helium for the balloon have fallen through. Parade organizers are asking anyone in West Michigan with access to 2,000 cubic feet of helium to contact them right away. You can be the one to help spread holiday cheer and hope to a little boy who could really use it.

“Time is not on our side, or on Jacob’s side,” Fox said. “We want to send something to him as quickly as possible.”

To contact Jason Fox about providing helium, email him at:

To learn more about Jacob's fight and send him a Christmas card, click here.

Follow Christine VanTimmeren on Twitter and on Facebook.

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