Cleota Lenert went up, up, and away when her lifelong dream of a hot air balloon ride was realized. Cleota is a lovely 91-year-old resident of Horizon Bay, a Brookdale community located in Graham, Texas. Cleota’s Wish to soar above Texas in a beautiful, peaceful hot air balloon has been a long time dream, one that she has never kept secret. It is something that has long been in her heart. She says, “it’s nothing earth shattering, but I always see the balloons on TV and in magazines and hear about them from friends and think, oh my goodness, how nice!” To Cleota, the thought of being in a big, colorful balloon floating freely in the air is exciting and spiritually up-lifting.
Cleota has lived a rich life, and has always given to others. She has always worked to be active in her community and to live as a “good citizen.” She worked diligently in her church and neighborhood, but her family has always been her main priority. When her husband joined the Army he was stationed on a base in Florida, but Cleota did not give a second thought about moving her family 1,300 miles in support of her husband. This move took them away from Texas, to a small town near the Army base. Although she missed Texas, Cleota made the most of her new life in Florida by serving as the President of the Missionary Union for five years and working to improve the local school.
When her family arrived in Florida, the school system was in awful condition, and their local school was ranked the lowest in the state. Cleota used her experience as a teacher and devoted mother to help. When she left Florida, some 40 years later, the same school was ranked number one! Cleota states that leaving her hometown in Texas to live in a tiny town near the Florida air base was one of the most difficult things she’s ever had to do. But she was happy to do it, as family comes first.
Wish of a Lifetime and Brookdale were thrilled to help Cleota realize her dream. On October 17, 2015, thanks to Auspicious Balloon Rides, Cleota took flight in a specially modified, handicap accessible balloon basket during the balloon festival in Granbury, Texas. She had the time of her life, and serves as an example of how to live, dream, and soar!
Photos courtesy of Steven Michaels