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Sat, Oct 01, 2011

Nancy Abruzzo Moves Forward One Year Later

Widow Of Balloonist Richard Abruzzo Works To Honor His Memory

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 residents.
 
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 family.”

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 Park.

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 and
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.

FMI: www.richardabruzzo.com

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