BISBEE, AZ — In December 2018, 8-year-old Dayami Leyva wrote down what she wanted for Christmas. She tied it to a balloon and sent it into the sky with her sister and cousins like they did every year.
"We're in Nogales and where we were launching the balloons was close to the border," said Christian Leyva, Dayami’s father.
But that year, something different happened. The balloon traveled 24 miles from Dayami’s home in Nogales, Sonora to Patagonia, Arizona. It popped and landed in a bush along a trail.
“I thought trash at first,” said Randy Heiss, Bisbee resident.
Heiss was walking his dog when he saw the balloon with the note. He says he was touched by what he read.
"Magic markers, a book she could color in, clothes, and it was really touching that part of the note said: ‘Just bring whatever you can,’” Heiss said.
The wish list was written in Spanish so Heiss figured it came from across the border. He called Radio Xenny, a popular station in Mexico, to help him locate Dayami. The station broadcasted the story and found Dayami within the hour.
“It was a miracle after miracle, the fact that I found that balloon in hundreds of thousands of acres of vacant land where that thing could've landed, it landed right in my path.”
The next day, Heiss met Dayami and her sister at the radio station and brought them Christmas gifts.
“It was great," said Dayami Leyva. "I got very emotional.”
It was the start of a long-term friendship.
“When Randy and Marcella found the balloon three years ago, we weren't expecting it and they weren't expecting it but now we've become close,” Christian Leyva said.
A film production company called vital pictures picked up the story and is going to make it into a movie. Mattel Films will co-produce the movie. It will be written by Hispanic screenplay writer Gabriella Revilla Lugo.
“I hope it inspires people," Heiss said. "When they see an opportunity to help somebody, take it. You won't be sorry.”