'Adopt a Grandparent' with this balloon delivery service

LANSDALE, Pa. (WPVI) -- "A lot of people in nursing homes, they haven't felt safe hugging a loved one for like... nine months," said Laura Swart while holding back tears.

Swart, who founded and operates Crazy Balloon Delivery in Lansdale, Pennsylvania, decided to use her talents to lift their spirits.

"Basically, it's where someone in the community, some of them complete strangers, adopt someone in a nursing home to send them a little extra TLC," she said. "We get one nursing home fully adopted and then we go on to the next one."

For $25, customers can sponsor the creation and delivery of a 'balloon buddy.' The smiling yellow inflatables are symbolic surrogates for family members.

"I love him! I named him sunshine," said Patricia Cole, 75, a resident at The Landing of Towamencin. "He's cheerful and he's my friend, my new friend."

As a working woman, Cole provided care for patients in hospice and others with Alzheimer's disease. She knows how important a small gesture of hope can be.

"Whatever we can do to brighten someone's life, let's do it," she said.

Laura Swart also has a personal motivation behind what she's calling the 'Adopt a Grandparent' endeavor. During the month of July 2020, she lost her own father.

"My mom is alone. And she's not in a nursing home, but I worry about her every day and how lonely that is," she said. "A lot of seniors like my mom, they're in mourning and they're not getting to celebrate life with a memorial the way that we used to."

Swart hopes that this mission will bring much-needed smiles to more seniors like Patricia. If it grows large enough, she hopes to extend the 'adoption' effort out to healthcare workers and other frontline heroes of the pandemic.

To learn how to participate, visit the website for Crazy Balloon Delivery.

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