Belfast Telegraph

Jessica's joy as balloon tribute to her grandad becomes internet sensation

By David Young

A pink balloon sent up to her grandad in heaven by a little girl in north Belfast came to earth more than 100 miles away, south of the border in Carlow.

Little Jessica Toan (8), from the city’s Shore Road area, released the balloon a week ago, on her eighth birthday.

It floated up into the sky, the wind caught it — and it began its long journey south.

Now, little Jessica is over the moon that her balloon has been found — by her new friend in Carlow, Laura Keating.

Laura, a 24-year-old dental nurse, told the Belfast Telegraph her dad found the pink balloon while he was out on a walk.

She spotted that the balloon — which had taken a week to make the cross-border odyssey — had a note attached.

That sparked Laura’s curiosity, and she posted news of the find on Facebook.

It wasn’t long before the story of the pink balloon went viral, shared across Laura’s extensive social media network of friends.

“I’d found little party balloons before but never one that had travelled more than a hundred miles all the way from Belfast,” said Laura.

“It’s just fantastic,” said Jessica’s mum, Jan Toan, who is studying to become a classroom assistant.

“Jessica is so excited her balloon was found.

She’d never heard of Carlow, though! We had to get the map out and show Jessica where Carlow was.”

Mum Jan said it was the first time Jessica had ever done anything like it — and the response has been phenomenal.

The Lowwood Primary pupil is now one of the few children looking forward to going back to school — so she can tell all her classmates about her balloon and its adventures.

“They have a show-and-tell day at the school, and she can’t wait to tell the story to all of her wee friends,” Jan said last night.

Jessica’s next task is to write a letter to Laura thanking her for rescuing her balloon.

She plans to include a special drawing showing her launching the balloon — and Laura catching it.

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