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July 3, 2015

Marking 40 years since its inception, the All-Ohio Balloon Fest is gearing up for a big anniversary and an action-packed event. An anniversary-celebrating 40 hot air balloons are scheduled to launch from the Union County Airport the weekend of August 13 through 15 – and the army of United Way volunteers are warming up for the event.

This will be the tenth straight year United Way of Union County is coordinating volunteer labor for the All-Ohio Balloon Fest. United Way has been the recipient of almost $70,000 in proceeds generated by the event which has been organized by the Marysville Journal-Tribune since 2006. United Way volunteers provide their time to direct parking and assist the balloon crews during the festival in exchange for the monetary donation.

Opportunities to volunteer are still available. Volunteers 13 years of age or older who are able to lift 20 pounds are needed to help with the balloon crews each day of the festival from 4:30 to 9:30 p.m. Parking crew members must be at least 15 years old and are needed in shifts from 3:30 to 7:30 p.m. and 6:00 to 10:00 p.m. on Thursday. On Friday and Saturday, parking crews are needed from 12:30 to 6:00 p.m., 2:30 to 7:30 p.m., 3:30 to 9:00 p.m., and 4:30 to 9:30 p.m.

Those interested can log-in and create an account at http://getconnected.unitedwayofunioncounty.org/aam/general/ and sign up for the shift of their choice. Volunteers are able to enjoy the sights and sounds of the balloons, concerts, and sky jumpers while they work. A free meal ticket and entry into the festival upon completion of the shift provide further incentive.

The family-friendly event will include nationally-acclaimed artist LeAnn Rimes as the premiere entertainment on Thursday, August 13, with opening act Jacked Up performing at 5:15 p.m. and Chris Janson at 6:30 p.m. Following Rimes’ concert, Friday’s main attraction is legendary 80’s band Night Ranger, with the popular group The Reaganomics opening from 5:00-7:00 p.m.

On Saturday, live bands will include Blu Kuda from 4:00-6:00 p.m. and Bon Journey, a Bon Jovi and Journey tribute band will take the stage from 7:00-10:00 p.m. The nightly balloon glow, food vendors, and games for children are also a part of the festivities. Admission for the entire weekend is only $10 per person - come and go all you wish on Friday and Saturday. Parking is $5 per entry.

Speaking of family events, there’s nothing that Kara Brown’s family enjoys more than working as United Way volunteers at the All-Ohio Balloon Fest. “As a family, we have volunteered for the last four balloon festivals on the balloon crews. We have so much fun participating and volunteering that it hardly seems fair. We helped with the Darth Vader balloon one year. The kids loved this opportunity. We also helped with the pig. This was a very big balloon and required a lot of HARD work. But so worth it!”

Brown, who serves on the United Way Board of Directors and works as Superintendent of the Union County Board of Developmental Disabilities, says that it is more than just the balloons for her family – it’s about giving back. “We want our kids to understand the importance of helping others and giving back to the community. The kids love being up close with the balloons. They know it is hard work, but they ask to help every year. And this is a very easy way to give back. If we all would take a few hours out of our lives to help others, our world would be a better place.”

The All-Ohio Balloon Fest is one of multiple special events United Way volunteers will work throughout the course of this campaign year. Events are a growing approach United Way has used to raise money and awareness for the organization over the last ten years. In 2014, volunteers generated tremendous funds through sponsorships and participation from such events such as Community Care Day, the Online Auction, and Honor Our Heroes 5K.

For Diane Spires, a 20-plus year volunteer of United Way, volunteering at the All-Ohio Balloon Fest means gathering friends and family for a fun yet fulfilling task. “For the past five years, my Spires Flyers team has been made up of friends with a few family members thrown in. My biggest team usually works the balloon chase crew over a few days and we have an absolute blast. That is what keeps them coming back. It is also fun to spend time together, work as a team and meet new people.”

Are you interested in being a United Way volunteer this year at the All-Ohio Balloon Fest? Spires asked to pass on her vote. “Absolutely, do it! I love being a part of the chase crew and meeting the balloonists and their team. Being able to get up close to the balloons is probably one of the most exciting things to look forward to each year. When I started helping chase down the balloons I was hooked! I got to ride in one of the shape balloons a few years back and I still can't stop talking about it! This is one event I hope to be involved with as long as they come to Union County – I guarantee you will love it too.”

“We are so grateful that the Marysville Journal-Tribune clearly believes in the mission of the United Way, and understands our role in improving the quality of life for families and individuals in Union County,” said United Way Campaign & Publicity Coordinator, Robin Coffey. “We value the strong relationship we have with such a cornerstone in this community, one that fully embraces its role in the community. And we take very seriously the trust they place in us with their generous contributions.”

United Way works to bring neighbors and resources together to improve lives in Union County. More than just a fundraiser, United Way collaborates with local businesses, government, and non-profit organizations to solve pressing social service issues large and small.

For more information, please contact the United Way of Union County at (937) 644-8381 or visit www.unitedwayofunioncounty.org.

The Spires Flyers Team is all smiles after they finished up “crewing” a hot air balloon at a past All-Ohio Balloon Fest. United Way is recruiting over 300 volunteers to work behind the scenes at this year’s All-Ohio Balloon Fest, scheduled for August 13 through 15. Volunteers are needed to serve a four or five-hour shift, either serving as balloon crews for out-of-town hot air balloon pilots or assisting in the parking areas with traffic flow. United Way is the beneficiary of the event, having received almost $70,000 in net proceeds from the festival over the last nine years.
The Marysville Journal-Tribune Team presents the net proceeds from the 2014 All-Ohio Balloon Fest to the United Way of Union County representatives. The donation assisted the United Way in securing their record-setting campaign that surpassed its goal, raising over $1 million to support its mission to bring neighbors and resources together to improve lives in Union County.
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