Sequim’s Captain-Crystal Stout continues to find herself and her hot air balloon program soaring to new heights.
The Dream Catcher Program won Best Nonprofit with The Global Beauty Awards in Coeur d’Alene, ID, on May 23.
The program, which received its 501(c)3 status in 2012 and began flying in 2015, provides seniors, veterans and others a ride in a hot air balloon supported by a seat rather than a basket.
The program’s nonprofit award follows Stout being named Ms. Senior Washington USA and then Ms. Senior United States as part of the Ms. Senior Pageant Group last October in Las Vegas, Nev. Stout said she never imagined going into pageantry, but feels it’s all about promoting the balloon program.
“I go from jeans and a baseball cap to a glittery gown kind of like Cinderella,” she said. “You never know the path you’re going to take and where it’s going to lead you.”
Stout and her dedicated team of volunteers have provided tethered balloon rides around the U.S. and world, including the Philippines. For the nonprofit award, Stout said, there were hundreds of nominees in 20-plus categories.
Since she was sponsored to present at the awards ceremony, Stout said he wanted to find a way to incorporate the Dream Catcher program in some capacity.
The day before the pageant, she invited a veterans group for tethered rides along with fellow royalty to meet and greet with them.
While the day was too windy for flight, Stout said everyone had photo opportunities including a 100-year-old World War II veteran Gladys Stevens.
Recently she provided a “bucket list” ride for a mother in hospice and her two daughters who traveled to Sequim from six hours away. They spent 15 minutes in the air, and Stout said the mother told her the family needed this after many recent hardships.
Stout continues to look for local and national opportunities for Dream Catcher to fly and she’s currently exploring potential flights in Sequim, Idaho and Montana. She said it runs on donations with $25 providing one ride to a veteran. Program fees, she said, cover insurance, bus and balloon maintenance, equipment and other general operations.
For more information, visit dreamcatcherballoon.org, find Dream Catcher on Facebook or call Stout at 360-601-2433.