The Last Ride: Colorful balloon calendar photo connects three Siouxland families
A Siouxland photographer captured Kim Rosenboom's last hot air balloon flight and that photo connected three families together.
LE MARS, Iowa (KTIV) -
You know the saying, a picture is worth a thousand words, but there's an image that's captured the hearts of many.
Many of you have received one of our 2016 Around Siouxland calendars, but if you take a look at the January photo, it captured an incredibly rare moment.
This photo has connected three families together in an unusual way.
There's something magical about a hot air balloon ride, especially during the winter.
"The weather was beautiful that day," says Paula Rosenboom.
January 14, 2015 turned out to be a perfect day for a hot air balloon ride.
"If it was under 32 degrees, he's not allowed to play in the snow, and it was 35 degrees that day so he figured what the heck, I'm going to go play in the snow," says Paula.
Because Paula's husband, Kim, had a special request from a very special young woman.
"We were going to take Kylie Hayworth, we were going to take her and her mother and sister on a flight," says Paula.
Kylie is battling brain cancer. Doctors gave her six months to live.
"I created a bucket list because I thought I was going to die," says Kylie. "I wanted to try it."
"We had the balloon set up and they carried her over to the balloon and put her in. We had a chair in there for her to sit," says Paula.
For the first leg of the flight, Kim flew Kylie and her mom above Le Mars, from the airport to the golf course. Way up in the sky, the three talked about life and death.
"It was so peaceful up there and we were just like, 'Yeah, if something would happen to the balloon and we went down, it would be a good day to die,'" says Kylie.
When they touched down, Kylie's mother got out, her sister got in and they took off again.
That's the moment a special photograph captures. It was a ride to remember.
"Very cool," says Kylie. "It was a once in a lifetime experience."
"It was a good day," says Paula. "As you can see smiles all around. It was a good day."
Little did anyone know that this perfect day was about to turn tragic.
"He said he didn't feel right and I said, 'Okay. Do you want me to stay home?' He said, 'No, go ahead and go bowling,'" says Paula.
When Paula got to the bowling alley, something didn't feel right.
"I was a little hesitant about putting on my shoes and he called me shortly after and said he had called 911," says Paula.
She got home just as they put Kim in the ambulance.
"I said, 'How are you doing?' And he said, 'I feel a lot better now' and I said, 'Okay,' and I met them at the hospital, but I never got to see him again," says Paula.
Doctors worked to revive Kim for two hours, but it was too late.
"His heart completely blew apart," says Paula.
"I was like it can't be true. I just saw him," says Kylie.
Kim died about two hours after that special photo was taken.
"Really?" asks David Moore, the photographer who snapped that special picture.
Turns out David had no idea the significance of the flight when he captured the colorful balloon in the distance of the dull landscape.
"I've never seen a colorful, hot air balloon any time in January in the middle of winter so I made it a point to follow it and see what it was up to," says David.
He snapped several that day, capturing Kim's last moments without knowing it.
"I don't know what to say, you hope as a photographer that your images have some kind of an impact on somebody, but you never know," says David.
"It's a good memory for us. It's hard to be sad when you see something like that and know how much it meant to so many people," says Paula. "He lived that day to the fullest extent and he was happy and he was happy and calm and content and peaceful and that's a good way to go."
It's clear that Kim's last day was also his best day.
Since she knows her husband would have wanted their balloon to be flown again, Paula plans on selling it soon.
As for Kylie, she continues treatment for her brain cancer, but doctors continue to monitor her.