Heart transplant recipients get a chance to ride in the Great Forest Park Balloon Race

ST. LOUIS (KMOV) – A Tulsa, Oklahoma teen had the opportunity to ride a hot air balloon Saturday during the Big Forest Park Balloon Race.

Purina is based in St. Louis gave Gavin Kuykendall the opportunity to ride a hot air balloon at Forest Park in St. Louis.

Kuykendall underwent a heart transplant at Children’s Hospital in April. Purina installed a room for patients to play with dogs about a decade ago at Children’s Hospital, according to a Purina spokesperson.

In that room, Kuykendall was able to play with Archie, a yellow squishy, ​​before surgery earlier this year.

Adam Kuykendall, Gavin’s father, said: “He’s like our third son. “Purina has a room where the kids have a chance to reconnect with their animal right before a procedure or major surgery. No words can describe bringing a little bit of home back here because it’s been a long road for us.”

“A lot of emotions,” Gavin told News 4.

“At Purina, we believe that people and pets are better together, especially in times of crisis,” says Dan Koehler of Purina.

Gavin was unable to take a hot air balloon ride on Saturday because of the windy weather. Several other balloons did not take off.

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