Hundreds show support for Iowa couple hurt in hot air balloon crash

Hundreds show support for Iowa couple hurt in hot air balloon crash
Hundreds show support for Iowa couple hurt in hot air balloon crash(MGN)
Published: Sep. 25, 2022 at 10:51 AM CDT
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MARTENSDALE, Iowa (KCCI) -People from neighboring communities spent a part of Saturday in Martensdale, showing up to support a couple hurt in a hot air balloon accident over the summer, KCCI’s Kayla James reports.

Back in July, a hot air balloon crashed into a power line and caught on fire. Four people were in the basket: a couplethe pilot, and a 13-year-old. The pilot is recovering from severe burns. The 13-year-old, who was also on the ride, is said to have suffered minor injuries.

As for the couple, KCCI spoke with Rich Wheeldon on Thursday. Rich suffered burns on his hands, arms, back and head. His wife, Irene, suffered burns to her face, arms and legs.

On Saturday, the couple was in Martsendale for a fundraiser held to help them cover out-of-pocket medical expenses. Over a span of five hours, hundreds of people filed into the town’s high school’s parking lot. The area had been transformed for the fundraiser and was filled with games, a balloon house, a dunk tank, raffle prizes, tents and more.

“We’re very grateful to everybody that’s here,” said Nathan Wheeldon, Irene and Rich’s son. “It’s just a testament to the number of lives they’ve affected over the years.”

The couple has been home for a bit after spending some time in the hospital following the accident. However, they still have to go through physical therapy.

“It’s just a lot of stretching, trying to get our mobility back,” Irene said.

“So that we don’t lose that motion, you got to keep stretching it back out,” Rich said.

The Wheeldon family said it best: what happened happened and it’s time to move on.

It’s something the couple says they would not be able to do without their friends and family helping them along the way.