The Great Texas Balloon Race (GTBR) traces its beginning back to 1978 when a Longview pilot flew his hot air balloon over the city announcing the opening of the Longview Mall. Since that time, hundreds of beautiful balloons have floated across the East Texas skies. Longview is, once again, hosting the U. S. National Hot Air Balloon Championship for the third straight year. The national event kick off will begin Monday morning, July 28, with a flight over Longview. Launch and landing sites change each day as they are determined by the wind and weather. This world-class event attracts the best competitive pilots from across the United States and the world.
The GTBR events will begin Friday, August 1, when the gates open at 4:00 p.m., and will continue through Sunday morning, August 3. Both Friday and Saturday evening will include the special shapes spectacular and the Balloon Glow, along with arts and crafts merchants, food vendors, Kids Land, and musical concerts.
It would be impossible to hold this event without hundreds of volunteers each year. Debbie Fox has served as a volunteer in several capacities over the past six years and is currently a member of the GTBR finance team. This team ensures the myriad of “behind the scene” details keeps the event running smoothly.
In addition to her commitment to the GTBR, Mrs. Fox also serves on the finance team for AlleyFest and is involved with the Junior Achievement of East Texas Denim & Diamonds fundraiser.
“I volunteer because I enjoy helping others,” Mrs. Fox said. “When you volunteer you may feel as though you are teaching others something, but, in the end, you are the one that ends up learning something. I always liked the quote by Winston Churchill, ‘We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.’ My life is better because of the small amount that I give. I give my time because I want to, not because I have to. It’s an honor to serve in our community.”
Mrs. Fox was born in Garden City, Kansas, and graduated from Enid High School in Enid, Oklahoma. She has lived in Longview for 13 years and is a trust officer with Texas Bank and Trust. Mrs. Fox, and her husband, Donald, have been married for 31 years and have a grown daughter, Maegan, son-in-law, Lee, and grandson Luke, 3. The Fox family are members of Mobberly Baptist Church.
“I enjoy living in East Texas because it reminds me of my hometown in Oklahoma, except there’s pine trees here. I feel we live in a medium-size community but have a big city feel. No matter what we may want or need, we can usually find it in East Texas,” Mrs. Fox said.
For more information on the Great Texas Balloon Race, please visit www.greattexasballoonrace.com.