Penguin balloon parade team finds helium supplier, volunteers and donors for the project



The penguin balloon project has received the donations necessary for the giant penguin to make it's appearance Saturday in the Kalamazoo Holiday Parade, said Sue Huggett, marketing manager for Downtown Kalamazoo Inc.


Volunteers seeking to float a giant penguin balloon in the Kalamazoo Holiday Parade have located a source of helium big enough to keep the project on track.

The team, lead by long-time parade volunteer Jason Fox, has been planning to float the 18-foot-tall balloon on behalf of a 9-year-old Portland, Maine, boy who has cancer. But the project stymied this week when the plans for acquiring the helium fell through. Yet after their story aired on Newschannel 3, a new supplier was identified.

Fox also said the news reports on the project have prompted calls from people wanting to help.

"Just before the story aired, Dustin Hulsey, who has been working on the helium end, found a supplier and now we are working some contacts for donations to cover the costs," Fox said. "Dustin has even set up a Go Fund Me Page while I was at a parade volunteer meeting.

The 9-year-old they're honoring with the project is Jacob Thompson, who was diagnosed with stage four neuroblastoma in 2014. His family said his prognosis is not good, and he might not make it to Christmas, so they are celebrating early by asking everyone on social media to send Christmas cards to Jacob.

Fox and others in Kalamazoo, learning of Jacob's story, decided to honor him in the parade this weekend; and penguins are among Jacob’s favorite things. So the team had the special penguin balloon was created.

“It will be the first helium balloon back in Kalamazoo in several years,” Fox said.

The team also plans to shoot video of the balloon as it floats through Kalamazoo, and will send that video to Jacob.

“The people of Kalamazoo love him,” Fox said.

To contact Jason Fox about helping the team, email him at:

Anyone wishing to send Jacob a Christmas card, should address it to Jacob Thompson; C/O Maine Medical Center; 22 Bramhall St.; Portland, ME 04102

Follow Christine VanTimmeren on Twitter and on Facebook.

Read more:

Kalamazoo will fly a giant penguin in holiday parade to honor 9-year-old with cancer

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