Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Local News

October 22, 2013

An unlikely journey

Balloon honoring Western first-grader floats 945 miles to Boston-area school

(Continued)

Fulgoni passed the story on to teachers who then shared it with students. Soon all 500 people at the school knew who Mason was. They knew the 7-year-old was a charmer who called all girls “princesses.” They knew he liked soccer and motorcycles.

And they knew he died too soon after losing his fight with brain cancer. That made his story extra special for everyone at Hunking, Fulgoni said.

Several years ago, the night janitor at the school lost his 8-year-old son to brain cancer. And a student at the middle school recently died of cancer.

Students and teachers at the school grieved for a long time after that — just like Mason’s classmates and teachers are grieving now.

“So for us to have had this balloon float down to us was a powerful experience,” Fulgoni said. “It had given its all to make it here. It was weathered and beaten. It was in pretty rough shape.”

The story, Fulgoni said, has given them another reason to smile, just as Mason would have wanted.

Western Primary School Principal Steve Arthur was surprised when staff at the Massachusetts school reached out to him Monday to recount the story of the white balloon.

Teachers in Russiaville will talk to their young children about the balloon’s journey. They’re using it as an educational opportunity and another way to honor Mason.

“He loved coming to school,” Arthur said. “He loved to learn. He would be excited to find out where the balloons ended up. We hope to use this in a positive way.”

The experience could involve the students at Fulgoni’s school. The middle school principal said he wants his students to write letters to the children at Western Primary. He wants the two schools to stay connected now that Mason brought them together.

“Part of Mason made it here to us,” he said. “I want to connect our schools around the life of this young man.”

Lindsey Ziliak, Tribune education reporter, can be reached at 765-454-8585 or at lindsey.ziliak@kokomotribune.com

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