Girl overcomes Perthes disease to crew Balloon Fiesta | KOB 4

Girl overcomes Perthes disease to crew Balloon Fiesta

Joy Wang
October 14, 2017 06:37 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – The Griffins have been attending the Balloon Fiesta for four years, making the trip from Atlanta to do so.


But 2017 represented an especially memorable time for Lorelei Griffin, who went from overcoming an illness last year to performing an important role at the event.  

“Four years ago, my wife picked up that book ‘A Thousand Places To See Before You Die’ (and we) saw this thing about the Balloon Fiesta. Whenever I heard 500-plus balloons, I was sold,” said Sean Griffin, Lorelei’s dad. “I said, ‘We’ve got to see that.’”

Since then, the world’s premier ballooning event has been an annual bucket list item for the family.

“For three to four hours you can just be absorbed by the magic of 500 balloons going through the sky, and forget about the troubles and problems going through your life,” he said.

Last year, however, the balloons weren’t the only things that were up in the air. Their annual trip was too, after Lorelei Griffin was diagnosed with Perthes Disease, with Lara Griffin said affected her daughter’s hip.

She couldn’t put any weight on her leg, couldn’t run around outside, couldn’t jump or lift off the way all those hundreds of balloons do.

“Last year was a little bit more rough,” Lorelei Griffin said. “But I also think it was a cool experience because, like, not many kids in general just get to go to the fiesta. So it was cool to go, and I’m really happy that my parents put in the effort and energy to take me when I was hurt.”

That positive attitude, as well as the support she received from her family, helped her through two surgeries a few weeks after the 2016 Balloon Fiesta.

Lara Griffin said she and her husband also quickly found out how strong they had to be for their daughter.

“Because she’s going through something a lot worse than you are. So just keep positive. She’s my little mockingbird. Keep positive,” she said.

Within a year, Lorelei Griffin was ready to return to the fiesta; this time, filled with all the energy she couldn’t use last year, and much more.

But it wasn’t just energy and joy she felt being back on her feet to watch the inflated colors and shapes fill the Albuquerque sky. It was also a special opportunity to help crew the Wonder Bread balloon, which is donating money to the children’s hospital in New Mexico even time an attendee takes a photo with it and uses the hashtag #SpotTheWonder.  

“It was super fun helping out,” she said. “The coolest part was when they were blowing up the balloon because I saw inside it. I found it really cool, and kind of magical.”

The Griffins are already making plans to return in 2018, to hopefully take a balloon flight.



Joy Wang

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