(AUBURN, Calif.) — For her late father’s Jan. 6 birthday, 16-year-old Ashlynn Marracino wrote him a letter and sent it floating on a star-shaped balloon.
One day later, Lisa Swisley stumbled upon the teen’s touching request.
“I showed up at my restaurant and a customer handed it to me,” said Swisley, who owns two restaurants in Auburn, California. “I noticed there was writing on it and I got very teary-eyed.”
Ashlynn, a student in Whittier, California, had written a note to her father onto a balloon that traveled 436 miles to Auburn.
“You have missed so much and I miss you,” the balloon read. “And I love you, miss you like crazzy!”
Ashlynn continued the letter by filling her dad in on what she has been up to, then pleads with him to send her some sort of sign.
That’s where Swisley came in.
After reading the letter, Swisley searched and reached out to Ashlynn on Facebook.
“I thought it would be cool to send her something to show my support,” Swisley told ABC News. “I jumped on a pay-it-forward page I follow on Facebook, and asked people to contribute.”
Members of the Auburn community began sending Ashlynn care packages, letters and even some notes sharing their own experiences of losing a parent.
“It’s all been so unbelievable,” Swisley said. “It’s the fact that the balloon landed in front of me and I decided to do something about it. It never occurred to me not to.”
ABC News has been unable to reach Ashlynn.
Since their story has gone public, Swisley and Ashlynn have connected via Skype.
“I think she is adorable and a really sweet girl,” Swisley said. “I asked her if she wanted the balloon back and she said if people can see it and be inspired, we should keep it here. She is an amazing young lady.”
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