DUNNAVANT, Ala. (WIAT) – When three ladies in Dunnavant, Alabama set out on a mission to find the owner of a silver balloon that landed in a pond, they couldn’t anticipate all of the twists and turns that they would encounter.
Lavinia Whatley was moved to tears when she saw a name, Cooper, and messages written in sharpie all over the balloon that had been bobbing in the pond in her backyard all afternoon. She showed it to her close friend, Patricia, and her daughter-in-law, Stephany. Together, they started researching online to find the owners of the precious memento.
They thought they found the family in South Carolina. A two-month-old baby named Cooper Finley had passed away of a congenital heart defect, and his family had documented a balloon release on Facebook. The Dunnavant women reached out to Cooper’s family and came to the consensus that the balloon belonged to the Finley’s. CBS 42 covered the story last Saturday as the Dunnavant women asked the community to help them gather cards and drawings to send back, along with the balloon, to the mourning family.
However, as time passed, the Finley family started to believe that the balloon might not actually be among the ones that they had released. The Dunnavant women set out to do more research and located the family of Cooper Hodges in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. Hodges, who was four, passed away from childhood cancer in June. After reaching out to Cooper’s family, the Dunnavant women became certain that they had finally found the owners of the balloon. The Hodges’ balloon had a green angel, full of seeds, attached to the end of the string.
On Saturday, the Dunnavant women collected all of the cards and gifts that they had gathered–both for Cooper Finley’s family and Cooper Hodges–and held a prayer circle. They mailed both packages off from the Lee Branch UPS store. They even donated $100 to the Finley’s upcoming American Heart Association walk.