ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Every year, Youth Football Leagues have fundraisers to help get necessary items for their season. But this year, a local team is giving back a portion of their raffle proceeds to families of the June balloon crash victims.
Martin and Mary Martinez, Susan and John Montoya and Pilot, Nicholas Meleski all died in a balloon crash in June. “Fifteen or 20 minutes later, I heard the balloon crash,” said Ernie Martinez during a vigil he organized for the victims in June. “It was too late. It hit me hard, I might have been the last one alive to see them waving to everybody,” said Martinez.
The balloon crashed into a power line at the intersection of Central and Unser early in the morning of June 26. The envelope separating from the basket, the gondola crashing into the intersection.
Now, the West Mesa YAFL team is hoping to help the victims’ families. “One of the team mothers came up with the idea,” said West Mesa YAFL team Coach, James Carroll. “We put it to a vote, and all the kids voted that they would like to do this,” Carroll said.
“The team does a fundraiser every year, the proceeds typically being used for practice equipment, uniforms, banquets, gifts at the end of the year, tournament fees,” said Carroll. This year, they’re selling raffle tickets and the winner will get a balloon ride for two from World Balloons. Half of the proceeds from the raffle will be given to the victims’ families.
Coach Carroll says he’s proud to lead such a compassionate group of young football players. “This team has surprised me – they’re very coachable, compassioned, and very into giving back to the community,” Carroll said.
Raffle tickets are $2 each and are available on the teams Facebook page.