There isn’t a day that goes by that 16-year-old Ashlynn Marracino doesn’t think about her father, who died in 2008, and wish she could talk to him. So each year on his birthday, she releases a balloon with a note to her dad on it.
Ashlynn says the tradition is therapeutic for her: “I can write stuff that I want to tell him. It makes me feel like he would receive it-seeing it go up into the sky and disappear…it feels like a weight has been lifted off your chest.” This year her letter to her dad not only expressed how much she loves and misses him, she also wrote about making the varsity sports team at her new school and shared her hopes of attending Northern California’s Humboldt State University.
Ashlynn also asked her dad to give her a sign that he got her message. Well, she did get an unexpected response, but it came from only 400 miles away.
The balloon was discovered outside a restaurant in Auburn, California. Its owner, Lisa Swisley, was touched by Ashlynn’s letter and knew she wanted to do something for her. First she used the Internet to find Ashlynn, who had signed her full name on the balloon. Then she reached out to members of the “Pay It Forward in Auburn” Facebook page, who began sending gifts and cards to the teenager. Lisa even got Humboldt State University to send Ashlynn a package.
Lisa, who had recently listened to the audio book “The Five People You Meet in Heaven,” says she felt compelled to help Ashlynn: “The message to me was you can make an impact on people’s lives by doing small things. I felt like the balloon came to me for some reason.”
Good for You, Lisa Swisley! Who do you know who deserves to be acknowledged with a Good for You Message