A family deflated

The Heene Family
The Heene Family

Kate and Jon Gosselin (“Jon & Kate Plus 8”). Nadia “Octomom” Sulleman. Jim and Michelle Duggar (“18 Kids and Counting”). These people all have something in common—actually, multiple “things.” In fact, these things have made them lots of money, allowing them to become recognizable names in the business of branding families— yes, there is such a thing. They are their children. And now there’s a new name that can be added to the extensively long list of very random parents vying for fame and fortune. The Heenes.

If you haven’t already heard the story of the “Boy in the Balloon”—you must be on Mars if you don’t know what I’m talking about—here’s a brief recap.

It all started on October 16, just last week, in Fort Collins, Colorado. A six year old boy was reported to have been inside a homemade balloon that was “mistakenly” released from it’s home in the backyard of the Heene family. Apparently, the young boy, Falcon Heene, had climbed into the chamber under the helium-filled apparatus and was flying at altitudes of up to 7,000 feet. While the world watched the saga unfold on live TV, the balloon landed about 50 miles away from it’s original take-off in a dirt field. In an effort to insure that it would not become airborne again, authorities piled dirt and punctured holes in the balloon. To the bewilderment of the rescuers, news media and millions of people watching, little Falcon was nowhere to be found. A couple hours later, police searched the home of the Heene’s a third time and found the boy hiding in a box in the attic. This is when all hell broke loose. Felony charges of falsely claiming emergency, among other things, face Richard and Mayumi Heene.

If you are one of the many, like me, who watched the drama unravel, you probably felt extremely nervous and scared throughout the entire six-hour ordeal. Questions arose in my mind immediately upon finding that the boy was not in the balloon: “Did he fall out while he was high in the air? If so, where is he?” And most importantly, “Is he alive?” Then they found him.

Seriously? The fact is that the parents, Richard and Mayumi Heene, seem to be completely incompetent, negligent and bizarre. I mean come on! They had a self-made “weather balloon” in their backyard. They were practically obsessed with pitching their own reality show to The Learning Channel (TLC)— based on their “storm-chasing” family. They appeared on “Wife Swap” twice.

I could go on ranting for hours about my disgust with the hoax and both Mr. and Mrs. Heene. I am very glad that they are going to be tried for this incident. I feel that people who put the public, emergency services and news stations through such unnecessary emotional/physical trials are beyond selfish. I’m completely frustrated with parents trying to gain notoriety through the exploitation of their children. To those who fit the aforementioned criteria: Way to set an example for the kids.