Widow Of Balloonist Richard Abruzzo Works To Honor His
Thursday marked the one-year anniversary of the death of famed
balloonist Richard Abruzzo (pictured), and his widow, Nancy
Abruzzo, has channeled her grief into energy in hopes of drawing
support for causes that were important to her husband and to her.
One of those causes is Albuquerque, New Mexico's Balloon Fiesta
Park and the Anderson-Abruzzo International Balloon Museum.
Nancy was recently appointed by the mayor to the board of
trustees for the balloon museum and will serve as ambassador for
this year’s Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, which
opens today (October 1). Nancy is showing her support for a bond
initiative that will be part of the October 4 ballot: The Lost
Balloonist Tribute. The parks and recreation bond is part of Mayor
Richard J. Berry’s proposed “ABQ The Plan”, where
various city-wide improvement projects will be voted on by
The Lost Balloonist Tribute Bond, if approved, would provide
$500,000 towards creating a multi-dimensional public space inside
the balloonist tribute area at Balloon Fiesta Park. The bond states
that the money is contingent on matching funds being received from
non-city sources. Nancy is now working on various fundraisers
to help raise the matching funds.
“It’s the people in this community that helped me
during the toughest trial of my life and I’m committed to
finding ways to give back,” explains Nancy Abruzzo.
“Albuquerque is the ballooning capital of the world and I am
looking forward to taking part in making Balloon Fiesta Park and
the balloon museum grow for this community. I hope it’s our
community's desire, too. It’s a way I can help honor Richard
and support a city that has done so much for me and my
Conceptual plans of proposed improvements could include a
year-round, multi-use, green public park, an outdoor amphitheater
and a walking bridge that would connect the balloon museum to
Balloon Fiesta Park.
Along with spreading the word about getting out to vote for this
Tuesday's bond issue, Nancy has also started The Richard Abruzzo
Foundation, a community minded, non-profit organization that has
emerged from Richard's lifelong passion for adventure and
knowledge. It provides financial support and creative resources for
the Anderson-Abruzzo International Balloon Museum and the
Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta Park. The foundation will specifically
focus on raising funds to promote interactive educational math and
science exhibits and programs, while also raising funds for the
balloonist tribute area within the museum and Balloon Fiesta
One way Nancy is working to raise funds is through the sale of
her children’s book, "Pop Flop's Great Balloon Ride" which
she wrote in 2005 and was illustrated by Noel Chilton. The book
tells the story of the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta
through the eyes of a child. All proceeds from the sales of the
book go to the Richard Abruzzo Foundation, and the book is
available for purchase on the foundation’s website.
Other ways that individuals or businesses can financially
contribute to the foundation is through a direct donation, holding
school fundraisers or by directing their United Way contribution to
go to the Richard Abruzzo Foundation. Residents can also visit the
balloon museum or plant a tree at the Lost Balloonist Tribute at
Balloon Fiesta Park.
“Our goal is to raise funds that we can use to fund
science and math programs at schools here in the community and at
the balloon museum. With Richard’s spirit in mind, we want to
encourage students to work hard in the areas that interest them
to take one step closer to achieving their own personal
dreams,” Nancy states.
As part of her mission to inspire students, Nancy continues to
visit local schools where she reads and hands out copies of her
book to students and does hands-on science experiments with them
that teach the basics of ballooning and aviation.