JERSEY CITY, N.J. — The Rite Aid Foundation helped launch the DreamShip, a hot air balloon that will embark on a year-long journey to raise awareness of Folds of Honor, a nonprofit group that provides educational scholarships to children of fallen or disabled armed services members.
The DreamShip made its official debut Thursday in an event at Liberty Landing Marina in Jersey City, N.J. New Jersey Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno joined Rite Aid Foundation president Ken Martindale, who is president and CEO of stores at Rite Aid, and Folds of Honor founder Major Dan Rooney at the ceremony, along with several Folds of Honor scholarship recipients and area Rite Aid associates.
Eight stories tall, the DreamShip balloon is made of more than 400 fabric panels, 130 of which feature drawings of the dreams of children helped by Folds of Honor. With an internal volume of 105,000 cubic feet, it would take about 405,000 basketballs to completely fill the fully inflated balloon. Though windy weather on Thursday kept the DreamShip grounded, when fully operational the craft will be operated by a licensed balloon pilot.
“Today is a very special day for Folds of Honor, but it’s only the beginning,” Martindale stated. “From here on out, with every launch, the DreamShip will lift up the dreams of children helped by Folds of Honor, both physically and metaphorically, and The Rite Aid Foundation could not envision a better way to show our support of Folds of Honor, our veterans and their children.”
The event also featured special exhibits, including a virtual reality hot-air balloon ride, a virtual reality art station and videos showcasing children helped by Folds of Honor.
“We cannot think of a better way to showcase the stories and dreams of our scholarship recipients than to lift them up with the DreamShip for the world to see,” commented Rooney. “Folds of Honor is so fortunate to partner with The Rite Aid Foundation in our mission to educate the legacy of our fallen and disabled service members. We look forward to following the DreamShip on its journey across the country and sharing the stories of our deserving scholarship recipients.”
The DreamShip is supported by sponsors including The Rite Aid Foundation’s KidCents program; Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc., the maker of Tylenol; Nestlé Waters, the maker of Nestlé Pure Life; and Unilever, the maker of Suave.
“I am honored to be here today with families of service members who have sacrificed so much for our country,” stated Guadagno, who is a military mother. “Through Folds of Honor, Major Rooney has made a commitment to support the children and families of the fallen and disabled heroes long past their darkest hours. Without the involvement of The Rite Aid Foundation’s KidCents program, the DreamShip would not be able to serve as an important visual reminder, one which people often forget, that sacrifices are also made by the families when their loved ones go to war.”
See the DreamShip launch countdown below:
— Folds of Honor (@FoldsofHonor) September 29, 2016