Memorial balloons for cancer victim travel hundreds of miles from Tempe to Nevada

TEMPE, AZ - What started as a small tribute to a lost loved one in Tempe took off and became an interstate friendship between two families.

On Sunday, the Taylors released 20 balloons as a tribute to their grandmother, Jackie, who passed away this year from cancer.

"She was an amazing person who just thought of everybody every time before herself," said her stepdaughter, Crystal Gonzalez.

The family attached notes and a phone number to the balloons, never really expecting anyone to find them.

"We thought they would go 10, 20 miles down the road and pop and fall," Gonzalez said.

"I figured they'd land in the middle of the desert somewhere and maybe nobody would ever find them," said Jackie's son, Paul Bales

So when they got a call the next day from a family in Bunkerville, Nevada they couldn't believe what they were hearing. Their balloons had traveled hundreds of miles overnight and landed in another family's backyard.

"The phone number on Paul's note, I didn't recognize the area code," said Ned Mikkelsen, who discovered the balloons. "So when we called, and said, ‘Where are you' and he said, ‘Tempe, Arizona.'"

Now, a friendship has blossomed between these two families. It's an unexpected connection they feel is a message from Jackie.

"She was able to show us that she was still there," said her stepdaughter. "It was amazing."

"Even though she's gone, she's still out there touching people," said her son Paul. "People still get to see how good of a person she was."

The two families want to plan a trip to meet each other in person. Ned Mikkelsen says he'd like to release his own balloons to see if anyone will find them.

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