Eagle Ridge Resort & Spa Fundraiser Will Soar to New Heights

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The Fifth Annual Great Galena Balloon Race hosted by Eagle Ridge Resort & Spa to benefit the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

On June 16 - 18, more than 3,000 people will look skyward to watch the Fifth Annual Great Galena Balloon Race hosted by Eagle Ridge Resort & Spa to benefit the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

Among those will be eight-year-old Cooper Williams, who has juvenile diabetes and was the original inspiration for the benefit. His mother Shannon is recreation programs coordinator at Eagle Ridge.     Williams, along with her husband Andy, who owns Galena On The Fly, a recreational hot air balloon company, founded the event with Eagle Ridge five years ago.

While the first event was successful, the group wanted to expand its appeal and decided to add additional activities and donate proceeds to a charitable cause. The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation was a natural tie-in due to the experiences of the Williams family in managing their son’s disease. Attendance at the event doubled in its second year and this year’s goal is to raise $20,000 from the expected 3,000 attendees.    

Cooper fully participates and serves as the unofficial ambassador, selling glow sticks and other items and handing out literature about juvenile diabetes.

“When Cooper was diagnosed at age three, we thought we would have to be extra careful and limit his activities. Instead, Cooper is involved in all sorts of sports and activities – just like any other boy his age. He just has to test his glucose five times a day,” says Williams. “He loves the balloon race, and is not shy about sharing his story with others, including reporters.”

The weekend will kick off at 6 p.m. on Friday, June 17, with a hot air balloon launch by Galena On The Fly and the inflation of more than hot air balloons.

The Night Glow Extravaganza with 25 balloons will begin at 8:45 p.m. Events on Saturday include a car show, a dog obstacle course and agility demonstration by “That’s My Dog,” an inflatable moonwalk for the children and live music both nights starting at 5 p.m. Three hot air balloon “heats” are scheduled, Saturday and Sunday morning at 6 a.m. and Saturday evening at 6 p.m. The winners will be announced at an awards banquet on Sunday morning.

Among the new attractions this year is an Ale Fest, which is similar to a wine tasting. More than 50 local breweries and specialty beer distributors will serve local micro-brews with food pairings and information about brewing processes.

On Sunday, Father’s Day, the resort will host a Father/Son/Daughter Golf Outing beginning with a 9:30 a.m. shotgun start. The 9-hole contest will take place on the East Course. Prizes will be awarded for each age group and families can enjoy a buffet lunch.

All proceeds from the event’s activities and souvenir sales, including dedication bracelets, helium balloons, t-shirts, concessions and more will go to benefit Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation of Cedar Rapids.

Admission to the race is $1; Ale Fest entrance fee is $20 and includes microbrews, a souvenir glass and specially paired food. Viewing and launches take place on the North Course Driving Range on Eagle Ridge Drive. Remote parking will be available at the corner of Thunder Bay and Mount Hope Roads. Eagle Ridge Resort & Spa will provide a free shuttle service.

Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation was founded in 1970 by the parents of children with type 1 (juvenile) diabetes -- a disease that strikes children suddenly, makes them insulin dependent for life and carries the constant threat of devastating complications.

Since inception, JDRF has provided more than $800 million to diabetes research worldwide. More than 80 percent of JDRF's expenditures directly support research and education. JDRF's mission is constant: to find a cure for diabetes and its complications through the support of research.

Located on 6,800 acres amid the rolling scenery of northwestern Illinois, Eagle Ridge Resort & Spa is a full-spectrum resort complex that has been named to “Best of…” lists by Better Homes & Gardens and Midwest Living magazines.

The resort provides a superior golf experience with 63 holes on four acclaimed courses. Other amenities include the new Stonedrift Spa, a fitness center with indoor pool and whirlpool, miles of biking, hiking and horseback trails, tennis, boating and fishing on the 220-acre Lake Galena, and hot air balloon rides, along with three restaurants and a general store.

Located near Galena, Illinois, the resort is three hours west of Chicago. For reservations or more information about Eagle Ridge Resort & Spa’s Fifth Annual Balloon Race weekend activities, call 1-800-892-2269 or visit online at http://www.eagleridge.com.

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Judi Schindler
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