GREENSBORO, N.C. — Dozens of birthday balloons and an envelope filled with money. That’s exactly what now 9-year-old, Riley Hensley sent up into the sky on his birthday.

In April, Riley gathered with a group of his family and his friends to celebrate his ninth birthday at a park in Greensboro. With the focus all on Riley for his big day, the 9-year-old was instead thinking about something other than presents.

In a video, he held the balloons and read a note.

“I hope this helps somebody who needs it. I put $40 dollars wherever it lands.”

For the last few years, Riley has been doing this for every birthday celebration. That’s sending up dozens of balloons with an envelope of money and a kind note. Riley uses $20 of his own money and then his dad matches it. In fact, it was his idea. He told his dad, "I want to give away my money." 

Something remarkable has happened. The balloons filled with money are landing wherever it needs to go. Many others have been on the receiving end of finding the balloons and of course the money.

His mother, Jennifer Young posted a note to Facebook with one such happy surprise money find.

Riley sent up a birthday balloon in April 2018 and nearly a year later a farmer found it! The man who found it owns a farm in Pittsboro. He was bailing hay fields in May of 2018 and apparently the letter was in that field. Fast forward to 2019 because when the farmer broke it up to feed his cows he found the letter and the money. The man is also a preacher at his church. He showed the letter to his church congregation. He also donated the money to a youth group at his church.

But his story isn’t the only one.

Riley also sent up another birthday balloon that landed in Martinsville, VA. A man wrote, “I found Riley’s birthday balloons in my backyard yesterday caught on my picnic table.. did not notice the attached letter and birthday money until this morning. What a surprise! Bing says this is 53 miles road travel. I will make a contribution to St. Jude’s Hospital in his name. Happy Birthday!”

Balloons
Riley's birthday balloons with money found in Martinsville, VA
Jennifer Young

Fast forward to April 2019, if you have found Riley’s birthday balloon and money please let the family know. There are instructions in the envelope along with money! 

This is the fourth year Riley has sent up the balloons. He said when he grows up he would like to help animals or even start his own business. 

We can all learn something from Riley and that it’s always better to give than to receive. What makes a community is watching out for each other. We all need love and a child’s love always finds a way to guide us in a better direction. And a random act of kindness keeps the world a better place. 

Riley just know that you are always "going up" and to other places in this big world!