The Story of 501

Now that the two seated hot air balloon was available for purchase, my excitement rose higher. I had a img_8688viable vehicle to bring joy to challenged individuals. Of course, at the time I could only see this as a way to empower those in wheelchairs. Since then my eyes have been opened by so many more individuals who have blessed my path. I thought only of wheelchairs since the balloon was at wheelchair height. Then someone with autism and then someone with Asperger’s Syndrome entered my world. They were followed by wounded warriors and kids who went to camp who had suffered such a tremendous loss they could no longer function in the world. My heart kept growing as each new candidate gave me a feeling of soaring…we could do so much more…we could be so much bigger.

So now there I stood…just me…a girl with a dream …looking up into the sky and asking, “How?” Don’t worry about the how, just get to the what. So the next thing we needed was a nonprofit status…the dreaded 501(c)3 from the IRS (as Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz says, “Oh my!”). My fight with 5 was soon to begin. Battle!

I understood from reliable sources that a nonprofit status of this type could take up to 2 years and up and over $600. So, where does a new concept begin without funds? You say what you want and wait. I invited a friend to tea, one who crewed for me and who I wanted to get to know better…my friend Janet. I mentioned my interest in a nonprofit status and she handed us our first of two 501(c)3 corporations. (We were offered another that next day but it did not fit the criteria.) I learned you can have one transferred if they are no longer in business and fit certain parameters. The name of that nonprofit was Chrysalis. It seemed so appropriate. We were enchanted with the idea of growth and empowerment from wheelchair to air…from ground to sky…from cocoon to a butterfly with wings. The idea was taking shape and evolving as we spoke. It was THE most exciting tea time.

Two months later on December 31, 2012, after meetings with the old Chrysalis regime and lots of paperwork in my hand, began the process of registering my first nonprofit. It took hours but the time stamp of 5:55 PM will forever be in my brain. I am a number girl and double and triple digits are my love. So nothing was better than 12-31-12 at 5:55.

We were on our way. We acquired a Board of Directors. Some stayed and some dropped out. We held fundraisers, awareness campaigns, festivals, balloon stand-ups for donations, motorcycle fun runs, flapjack fundraisers, Pink Papaya Parties, and even campaigned at Ms. Wheelchair Washington with Fundraising Director, Julie Broadwell, who came in first place. We were in newspaper articles and even got in a national magazine.

Dream Team in Albuquerque
Team Chrysalis

In May of 2013 we got the news that our nonprofit status was on hold. The corporation had not filed for three years…be patient and wait. A review would be held in May of 2014. Reviewed? In a year? And then what? Oh, and then the IRS will have you reinstated by the end of 2014. Wow! A bombshell just dropped in my lap. Of course, there is a happy ending in this. We waited until September 2013 for news from the IRS on our status. We had sent in a 37 page report stating the circumstances. In October 2013 I decided to write a letter to “Expedite” the process. Of course, I sent the letter the same day the U.S. Government went on sabbatical. My letter was simple…we had until November 1, 2013 to be up and rolling. I was in the process of donating a balloon from my Morning Star Balloon Co. to Dream Catcher Balloon Program. However I would not do so unless we had nonprofit status. We had a corporation who wanted to donate but would not do so unless we had nonprofit status (get the picture).

We were surprised and elated on October 31, 2013 with the first of many letters. We were once again in the picture and expedited to the top of the pile. The next month was spent faxing and acquiring old files from as far back as 1985 when Chrysalis was originated. Time and again we were given the golden halo as Andrea worked her magic on the federal side. I took a trip to fly my balloon in Leon, Mexico in November and got the call some of our faxes did not go through. With cell phone in hand, and bad reception as well, I contacted my best gal pal Jan at home while boarding a flight from Texas. She found the faxes in my office and onto Andrea’s desk before the final, FINAL deadline two days later.

Our Christmas present was a single piece of paper. On December 24, 2013 we were now, officially, a 501(c)3 nonprofit corporation. We now have our 5. Life doesn’t get any better than that.

We are the creators of all that is around us…it just takes patience and time to see what is on the road ahead. Don’t look back at what was…that would be the wrong direction. Look to the yellow bricks that lead to the Emerald City that sparkles and shines with delight. Our dream is almost at hand. We are headed in the right direction. Your tax-deductable dollars are all that is needed. Our grid is filled. Our Directors are now in place (more on that story later…and you now know that will be such a story).

Bring warmth to someone you love in a unique and exciting fashion. Sponsor a challenged individual’s dream of joy. We are happy to assist with your tax-deductable donation. How great a gift it would be to enable others to feel special and empower their dream of the impossible. After all, isn’t that why we are on this planet? I would like to think it as so.