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A Mexican Girl Attached Her Christmas List To A Balloon. An Ariz. Man Found It


Last week, Randy Heiss was walking his dog along a cow path in Patagonia, Ariz., when a splash of red caught his eye. It was a deflated balloon sitting in the tall grass. Attached was a ribbon and a note in Spanish that Heiss quickly realized was a child's Christmas wish list that had floated over the border from Nogales, Mexico. Randy Heiss, who is a regional planner, joins us now to pick up the story. Welcome to the program.

RANDY HEISS: Good morning, Lulu.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: So you decided that you were going to make a little girl's Christmas something special.

HEISS: I did. You know, that little girl sent that balloon up in the air with faith that somebody would find it and that her Christmas wishes would come true. And so I wanted to make sure that I gave that the very best chances of that happening.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: What was on her list?

HEISS: Enchantimals, clothing, coloring books with magic markers, paints.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: And you found out that her name is Dayami. And with the help of a local radio station in Nogales, you tracked her down, right?

HEISS: Yeah. And the local radio station featured the quest for Dayami on their evening news. They posted on their Facebook page. They invited us to the radio station to meet Dayami and her family. And they interviewed her father and my wife and I, as well.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: So yeah. Everyone gathered together at the radio station. And you came bearing gifts. And just describe - how'd it go?

HEISS: Well, it was very exciting. And so we get the gifts. And then we had to wrap them before the family showed up. And we were Santa's little helpers there. So it was just a joyous experience, very heartwarming.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: This also had some resonance for you because you lost your only son nine years ago. And so this experience was important to you.

HEISS: It was important because, you know, not only did we lose our son but we also lost the opportunity to have grandchildren, right? So we don't have the blessing of children in our lives or at Christmastime. We do a lot of things with kids when we can. But, you know, we don't get to share Christmas with a lot of children. So this really was special to both of us.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: And I understand that Dayami and her sister talked to you about Santa and your role with Santa.

HEISS: And it was really cute. Since we were posing as Santa's helpers, they were asking questions like, is it true that Santa never gets seen that much because he's fat?

GARCIA-NAVARRO: (Laughter) What did you say?

HEISS: Oh, no. Santa doesn't want to be not seen because he's fat. It's because he's so busy. He doesn't have time for this.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: This is a really beautiful story. And I can't help but think it's particularly pertinent now when there are so many tensions along the border where you live. I guess a balloon knows no barriers.

HEISS: That's correct. And neither does love. We need to care for our neighbors. We need to - we're all in this together. Just because we may not agree with a certain thing that another person says doesn't mean we need to respond in a negative fashion. This sort of stuff happens all the time on the border. If you go to the Nogales International newspaper's website, you'll see a story about firefighters cooperating across the border. And they had to pass the hose from the American side over to the Mexican side in order to extinguish a blaze that broke out just last week. And it was just - it's just a kind of thing that happens all the time that people don't even realize. They think about the bad things about the border. They don't think about all the wonderful things that are available to us if we just open our hearts to them.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Speaking to us from Bisbee, Ariz., via Skype, Randy Heiss, thank you so much.

HEISS: Happy holidays to you. And thank you for the opportunity. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.