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Girls balloon message gets response
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WHITTIER (AP) — Every year on her late father’s birthday, Ashlynn Marracino writes a message to him on a balloon and sends it aloft.

This year the Southern California teen got an unexpected response.

The star-shaped Mylar balloon flew 436 miles north to Auburn, California, where it ended up outside a restaurant owned by Lisa Swisley, the Whittier Daily News reported Tuesday.

“Happy birthday, dad. I will always be your little girl dad. Don’t forget that. I miss you,” said the message Ashlynn sent to her dad, who died in 2010.

Swisley said she became emotional after reading the note this month at her Local Heroes restaurant.

“I realized it was a letter to her father,” said Swisley. “I started to get teary, and I didn’t want to cry at work.”

She brought the balloon home and after reading the note again, decided to look Ashlynn up on Facebook. Swisley discovered the Whittier High School junior dreams about attending Humboldt State University and playing softball there.

Swisley reached out to the softball coach at the university and got him to send an email to Ashlynn.

Since then Swisley and Ashlynn have spoken via Skype and done several media interviews.

Ashlynn said Swisley’s kindness shows that her father still has an important presence in her life.

“I asked for a sign,” she said. “I kind of feel like this is it, for him to tell me that he’s still here watching over me.”