The Dream Catcher Balloon Program team celebrates Captain-Crystal Stout, third from left, winning the Ms. Senior United States title on Oct. 8 in Las Vegas. Included in the picture are, from left, Teresa Stout of Sequim), Brian St. Ours of Sequim, Lucee Light the therapy dog, Crystal Stout, Bob Holt of Sequim, and Ginger Johnson of Las Vegas. Photo courtesy of Captain-Crystal Stout

The Dream Catcher Balloon Program team celebrates Captain-Crystal Stout, third from left, winning the Ms. Senior United States title on Oct. 8 in Las Vegas. Included in the picture are, from left, Teresa Stout of Sequim), Brian St. Ours of Sequim, Lucee Light the therapy dog, Crystal Stout, Bob Holt of Sequim, and Ginger Johnson of Las Vegas. Photo courtesy of Captain-Crystal Stout

Captain-Crystal Stout named Ms. Senior United States

Future plan is to share balloon rides with veterans, children and more

Hot air balloon pilot Captain-Crystal Stout is a good example that what happens in Vegas doesn’t always stay in Vegas.

At an Oct. 8 contest in Las Vegas, Nev., Stout was named Ms. Senior United States as part of the Ms. Senior Pageant Group.

For the next year she’ll travel the nation, barring COVID-19 restrictions, working with the Shriners Hospital for Children, advocating for senior women and promoting the Dream Catcher Balloon Program.

“My whole goal for this thing was to share my story,” Stout said.

Part of her winning effort included a nearly 3-minute talk on stage of The Orleans Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas about her balloon and how it helped improve someone’s life.

The Dream Catcher Program, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, provides vertically challenged individuals, seniors, veterans and others a ride in a hot air balloon supported by a seat rather than a basket.

Stout, who lives in Sequim, has provided tethered rides around the world for people of all abilities. She won Ms. Senior United States title two days before her 60th birthday — which also happened to be the pageant’s contestant cutoff, with the contest open for women ages 55-59.

While audience members were limited to family and friends, Stout had a small crew help her present the balloon to a camera crew for judging.

Stout became convinced to try out for the title by Port Angeles’ Cherie Kidd, last year’s Ms. Senior USA (a different title and age bracket).

“She told me it empowers senior women and it gives them opportunities to go out and make a difference,” Stout said. “I have no talent; I don’t sing or dance, but she told me I’m a storyteller.”

At the Global Beauty Awards last year, Stout said her concept of a beauty pageant flipped as she saw so many innovative women.

“It changed my heart,” Stout said. “You’re not a beauty queen. You’re trying to change lives and I realized that’s what I want to do.”

Captain-Crystal Stout, with her therapy dog Lucee Light, speaks to judges and audience members about her Dream Catcher Balloon Program on Oct. 8 during the Ms. Senior United States pageant. She received the title that night. Photo courtesy of Captain-Crystal Stout

Captain-Crystal Stout, with her therapy dog Lucee Light, speaks to judges and audience members about her Dream Catcher Balloon Program on Oct. 8 during the Ms. Senior United States pageant. She received the title that night. Photo courtesy of Captain-Crystal Stout

Faith trip

The Dreamcatcher crew made it round trip from Sequim to Las Vegas, Nev., and back Oct. 1-17 in their bus and support vehicle. They stayed in hotels via support from Nancy Merrigan, general manager of Quality Inn & Suites, in Choice Hotels along the route.

Stout said the “whole thing went on faith” due to a sponsorship for the trip not coming through due to economic struggles.

“We thought about it and felt we were just going to do it,” she said.

“We got a lot of donations through Facebook and Paypal. It’s exciting to see the community rallying around this especially those who donated to us.”

Due to current health and air quality conditions, the Dream Catcher was only able to set up and fly one time at Craig Ranch Regional Park in Las Vegas. They gave rides to 38 people, mostly disabled veterans.

“It was an awesome event,” Stout said. “I realized there are a lot of veterans who need an extra uplifting moment especially in this time.”

For the free fly day, she and crew installed a protective plastic shield between her and the rider to limit any possible exposure.

“People can take off their mask if they want (in the air) out in the open and not worry about anyone around them,” she said.

Stout said one of her hopes is that community groups will see they’re trying to be safe and “it’s one (rider) up and one down, not a big group in a basket.”

“Next to me, they’re completely guarded and protected,” she said. “We want to give them that special thing they would never experience otherwise.”

On the night of her achievement, Stout learned their bus’s catalytic converter, an exhaust emission control device, was stolen at the same time. She said her team viewed it as a positive because they were able to achieve help the next day rather than having to wait another week or more if it were the weekend.

Stout attributes much of the success of the trip to her team, Bob Holt, Brian St. Ours, Teresa Stout (no relation), Jeff and Katherine Perry, Steve and Ginger Johnson of Las Vegas, and Stout’s therapy dog Lucee Light.

“Sequim went down (to Las Vegas) and made it an amazing event,” she said.

Days before winning the Ms. Senior United States title, Captain-Crystal Stout of Sequim flew dozens of veterans in Las Vegas for the first time in the Dream Catcher Balloon. She hopes in the next year to provide more opportunities for people to go in the air for the first time. Photo courtesy of Captain-Crystal Stout

Days before winning the Ms. Senior United States title, Captain-Crystal Stout of Sequim flew dozens of veterans in Las Vegas for the first time in the Dream Catcher Balloon. She hopes in the next year to provide more opportunities for people to go in the air for the first time. Photo courtesy of Captain-Crystal Stout

Up next

Organizers from various organizations have reached out to Stout about bringing the balloon program to them, she said, and her plan is to get word out that the national title of Ms. Senior United States is on the Olympic Peninsula.

One private event is scheduled for the balloon soon after Veterans Day, and she’s planning on another in the near future, too.

As for where she’ll go, that will depend how areas across the world are handling the COVID-19 pandemic.

During her recent trip Stout was set to visit a Shriners hospital and provide children rides, but learned just before leaving it wasn’t going to happen. She said she hopes what she saw in the Las Vegas veterans can be shared with children, too.

“We want to help change the world and bring back a sense of normalcy and lightening of hearts,” Stout said.

“We believe there are more places we need to be.”

For more information and/or to support the Dream Catcher Balloon Program, contact Stout at 360-601-2433 or Dreamer@nwplace.com, or visit facebook.com/DreamCatcherBalloon and DreamCatcherBalloon.org.

For more information about the Ms. Senior USA program, visit msseniorusa.org.

Crystal Stout, executive director of the Dream Catcher Balloon Program, smiles big after learning she won the Ms. Senior United States title. Photo courtesy of Captain-Crystal Stout

Crystal Stout, executive director of the Dream Catcher Balloon Program, smiles big after learning she won the Ms. Senior United States title. Photo courtesy of Captain-Crystal Stout

More in News

Long-term care facility reaches 22 COVID-19 cases; peninsula hospitals restricting visitors

The number of COVID-19 cases on the North Olympic Peninsula continued to… Continue reading

Officials: Avoid gathering with non-household members for holiday

North Olympic Peninsula health officials are urging residents to not gather and… Continue reading

Man in Carlsborg collision earlier this month dies

A driver who was in a three-car wreck on U.S. Highway 101… Continue reading

x
Lighting up the season

A group of volunteers were busy this past weekend adorning Sequim with… Continue reading

x
Sequim schools to close buildings, revert to remote learning

Students in the Sequim School District will return to all remote learning… Continue reading

Peninsula COVID-19 case numbers continue to rise as Clallam adds 58 since Nov. 19

Clallam and Jefferson counties added 13 COVID-19 cases combined as the North… Continue reading

Decision on MAT hearing expected by Dec. 18

Update editor’s note: The hearing for the medication-assisted treatment (MAT) clinic closed… Continue reading

Sequim chamber, city partner to provide more small business relief funds

The City of Sequim and the Sequim-Dungeness Valley Chamber of Commerce are… Continue reading

Community news briefs — Nov. 25, 2020

Tractor Parade modified for 2020 Organizers with the Sequim Museum & Arts’… Continue reading

Most Read