It was still dark as skydivers, spectators and news crews arrived at Smoketown Airport on October 30. As the sun rose over Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, three hot-air balloons launched into the sky. The air was alive with energy, but there was also a solemn silence. These hot-air balloons, the skydivers preparing for their jumps and everyone in attendance gathered for this unique event to raise awareness for suicide prevention. On average, there are 123 suicides per day in the U.S.—that is one suicide every 11 seconds.
The Slay Energy Drinks balloon held Fly Team Evil, the main attraction of the event. Each skydiver on Fly Team Evil had yellow, black or red smoke canisters attached to their ankles. As the balloons rose to 5,000 feet, the skydivers ignited their smoke effects and exited in groups. The smoke demonstration was visible for miles and served as a powerful reminder of our country’s growing suicide rate. Some special spectators—families and friends who lost loved ones to suicide, as well as suicide-attempt survivors—also rode in the balloons to view the display from above.
Fly Team Evil and sponsor Slay Energy Drinks raised $3,000 for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, which was on site in support of the event. This event will happen annually in Lancaster County, and the United States Hot Air Balloon Team, Fly Team Evil, Slay Energy Drinks and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention want to encourage more events like it around the U.S.
Harry Berning | C-46332