OREGON COUNTY -- Livingston, Tenn. is long way from Thayer, Mo. More than 200 miles to be exact. That did not keep two elementary school students from getting to know each other recently by way of a balloon.
Every year, during March, during drug free activities at the school, students at Thayer Elementary School launch balloons in an effort to let other people around the country know their students and their school are drug free. The balloon was launched March 21, 2003. A tag was placed on the balloon with a drug free message and a little information about the Thayer community. The tag requested that if anyone found the balloon to please reply telling about their family, community and school if they were a student.
Thayer second grade student Ashley Steed launched the balloon.
The balloon was found Jan. 9, 2004, by Colby Gore. Gore was riding his motorcycle in a wooded area near his home in Livingston when he found a tag with a string attached. Gore's grandmother, Vaneta Gore said the balloon was long gone but an inspection of the tag revealed a sizeable length of string tied to the remainder of the balloon.
"I put it in my pocket," the younger Gore said. His mother added, "He brought it to my house and didn't tell me anything about it." She said he put it in the carport and when she was sweeping she found it. "I asked him where it came from and he didn't say anything for a day or two. I thought it had blown up on my porch, but then he told me he had found it, the grandmother said.
When asked for her immediate thoughts after finding the tag she said, "I thought it had come an awfully long way."
Come to fine out, the Gore family had more to do with where the balloon came from they could have ever expected. "When I looked it up on the map (Thayer) I noticed it was 16 miles from Hardy, Ark. I had been up there a couple of times to see my great grandfather's grave. He and his family migrated to Hardy in the late 1800s. I guess it's a small world," she said.
"I thought it was a coincidence that it was so close to Thayer. I just thought it was really neat," the grandmother said.
In their response the Gore's set some information about the area where they live. Their town, Livingston, is halfway between Nashville and Knoxville with a population of 20,000. The county, Overton, was founded in 1806 and named after Judge John Overton. Colby is a second grader at A.H. Roberts School.
He has a brother Tyler in the 5th grade at Livingston Middle School. Their grandmother said both brothers enjoy being with their friends and riding motorcycles and go-carts and watching movies.
"Their school is also drug free. We congratulate Ashley and her school on being drug free. This is a wonderful accomplishment. Our hats are off to Thayer Elementary School," the grandmother said.