TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – A Tampa Bay area business is not letting local seniors be forgotten a year into the coronavirus pandemic.
Johan Delgado is the owner of “Balloon Art FX.” He is providing adorably-crafted “balloon buddies,” along with a little card with a poem, to local seniors at assisted living facilities to let them know the community is still thinking about them.
Delgado began his business at the beginning of the pandemic. It started out as a bit of necessity.
“So around two and a half years ago, I went to a birthday party and I didn’t know what to bring. So I Googled something and it came out that this balloon, flower type of thing,” Delgado explained. “So I got the balloons, I made it, I brought it to the birthday. People thought I bought it, that I didn’t make it myself. And I said, ‘no, I made this!’ And they were impressed by it.”
He said from there, another friend asked him to create balloons for a baby shower. He continued to create for friends and family.
When Delgado realized he enjoyed what he was doing, he thought he should begin doing it as a business.
He went through professional training, including workshops, summits and conventions.
“We do have balloon conventions and workshops,” he laughed.
Delgado was supposed to open his doors and launch his business for Tampa’s St. Patrick’s Day parade, which was canceled due to the pandemic. He said he struggled and wasn’t sure he would stay open, but help on with help of the balloon art community kept him going.
“[We] kept our spirits up doing displays for COVID in yards and inspiring other people,” Delgado told 8 On Your Side.
The community continued to hold on and figure out how to spread the most joy during these trying times.
He explained that, through a balloon coach group, someone came up with the idea of participating in the “adopt a grandparent” movement, which is happening in cities across the country.
“Because they have limited human contact and limited visitation, or no visitation at all. So we decided to jump in and help out with this. It’s a nice surprise for them. A lot of them are lonely, so this brings smile to them, it lifts them up. The community gets involved, so we all help,” Delgado said.
The smiling, hand-crafted “balloon buddies” are bright, color-coordinated and come with a poem.
He said the community is stepping up to help the business give smiles to seniors.
“After I finished my second facility, I had some people reach out saying that they wanted to help, they wanted to contribute, [about] what a great thing we’re doing. ‘Thank you for doing this.’ Through this, they can help our seniors and send them a nice gift to let them know that they are thinking of them, that the community is thinking of them,” he said.
Delgado plans to continue this effort through at least the end of February.
To aid in Delgado’s efforts, the public can go online as he works in spreading joy at his third facility.
He is also looking for more facilities to participate.
Those interested can adopt one, two, or multiple seniors, or even an entire facility’s residents.