When Randy Heiss took his dog out for a hike behind his Arizona ranch, the last thing he expected to find was a Christmas list attached to a deflated balloon from a neighbouring country.
After unsuccessfully trying a similar stunt when he was a child, the 60-year-old was determined to fulfil the little girl’s wish list. Not even the US border was going to stop him.
On the outside of the note was the name “Dayami” and inside were the girl’s top-10 present choices written in Spanish.
Top of the list was “Enchantimals – animated human-animal figures and a house for them, followed by painting and drawing supplies and slime.
“I found this balloon on my morning walk near Patagonia on Sunday. I couldn’t tell what it was until I got close enough to see the ribbon because the balloon had popped when it reached high elevation,” Randy wrote on Facebook.
“Attached to the ribbon was a scrap of paper with the Christmas wishes from a little girl.”
Confident that the note came from the Mexican border city of Nogales, Sonora, he contacted popular Nogales radio station XENY via Facebook in a bid to track down the eight-year-old girl.
XENY reporter Cesar Barron began broadcasting Heiss’ story on Wednesday and within an hour Dayami’s family got in touch with Randy and his wife, who made the 45 minute drive out to deliver the gifts in person.
They told Dayami that they were “ayudantes de Santa,” or Santa’s helpers and purchased almost everything on Dayami’s list, except for some of the Enchantimals toys, which were sold out.
They even brought a few gifts for Dayami’s little sister, Ximena.
“Instead of going back to my office in Bisbee, I went with my wife to Walmart,” he told the Washington Post.
Randy’s only son died nine years ago and sharing Christmas with children was something he and his wife had been missing.
“Being around children at Christmas time has been absent in our lives,” Heiss said.
“It’s been kind of a gaping hole in our Christmas experience. We now have friends for life.
“For a day, that border fence with its concertina wire melted away.”