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Hot air balloon to give wheelchair accessible rides during Balloon Fiesta

<i></i><br/>A hot air balloon was built to give wheelchair accessible rides during the Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque
Lawrence, Nakia

A hot air balloon was built to give wheelchair accessible rides during the Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque

By Stephanie Muñiz

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    ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico (KOAT) — The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is known worldwide.

“It’s Balloon Fiesta but it is also the Superbowl of ballooning,” said Scott Appelman, the CEO of Rainbow Ryders.

Rainbow Ryders has been ballooning at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta for 25 years.

This year, in collaboration with Coddiwomple Ballooning, they are giving more people the chance to hit the New Mexico skies.

“We’re really excited to provide this wheelchair accessibility at the world’s largest event,” Appelman said.

And it will be available every day during Balloon Fiesta.

“Not everybody can climb into a balloon basket and climb out of it, and we just felt it in our heart we wanted to bless people that were in wheelchairs or mobile disabled that are not able to do that and give them that experience and that love we have for the sport,” said Mike Heffron, a balloon pilot for Coddiwomple Ballooning.

From one side, the basket looks like a normal basket, but on the other side, “it has plexiglass sides and a drawbridge that comes down, so a wheelchair for disabled person can enter the balloon and not have to climb into the basket,” Heffron said.

The transportation includes a bus that Heffron says, “has a wheelchair lift in the back that’s fully equipped to transport those wheelchair passengers safely to the field.”

“This would not be possible if it weren’t for Mike Heffron and Coddiwomple. That’s the whole deal. I get to be the mouthpiece, but they are the ones bringing the resource, and we’re really thrilled,” Appelman said.

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