Rising Above Leukemia: Common bond forged between balloon pilot, sisters fighting cancer | KOB 4

Rising Above Leukemia: Common bond forged between balloon pilot, sisters fighting cancer

Morgan Aguilar
October 07, 2017 06:55 PM

Editor’s note: This is the third in a three-part series called "Rising Above Leukemia." Click here for Part 1. Click here for Part 2. 


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Saturday morning marked the third hot air balloon ride for the Tesauro sisters, but their first Mass Ascension at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.

You’d never know it by talking to her and seeing her never-ending smile, but Kristine Tesauro is battling leukemia.

She – along with Brianna, her sister and primary caretaker – lives in California, where they’ve started a business rooted in their love and fascination with hot air balloons.

Through Catch Some Air, the Tesauros help other kids in their own fights against cancer. When they happened to meet the brother of KOB’s Steve Stucker, Rob, who also lives in California, Rob decided to help them cross the Balloon Fiesta off their bucket list.

Rob Stucker not only paid for their visit, but also set up a ride so they could share their adventure with a group of local kids who are also battling leukemia.

Then, on Saturday, they met pilot Diane Karlsson, who was Steve Stucker’s first call when looking for a pilot to guide the Tesauro sisters into the New Mexico sky.

He had no idea how personal, and how perfect, the favor would turn out to be.

“I said, ‘Steve, this is the gods looking down, because…’ and I told him our story and he said, ‘You are kidding!’ And I said, ‘No, this is fate,’” Karlsson said.

As it turns out, Karlsson’s twin sister won a battle with leukemia 21 years ago. It was a battle that Diane herself helped out with; she donated stem cells twice to contribute to her sister’s fight.

“That was 21 years ago, and she is doing great,” Karlsson said.

The Tesauro sisters said it was inspirational to spend time with someone who was aware of what they are going through, and who has seen a positive outcome.

“It gives you a lot of hope just to know there’s super amazing people out there who are doing great and living life after the whole diagnosis,” Kristine Tesauro said.

The sisters say this entire trip has motivated them to not only return to Balloon Fiesta next year but to help as many other kids as possible to enjoy the experience.

"We've actually met quite a few of the balloon pilots. Eventually, we would like to be able to travel around and take kids from all over up on hot air balloon rides,” Brianna Tesauro said.

For now, this group of strangers has found a common bond – their will to fight and rise about leukemia, as they rise above the Land of Enchantment.



Morgan Aguilar

Copyright 2017 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved


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