Almost 10 years ago, a young girl from Washington Township, Michigan decided to release balloons at her luau birthday party. One of these balloons ended up in a coal mine in Somerset.
But that’s not the most intriguing part of the story.
Olivia Apfel’s mother, Michelle Apfel, said out of curiosity that she had recently started researching coal mining in Somerset, Pennsylvania, and found the Quecreek Mine Rescue Site. It was July 24, 2002, when 212-year-old Dormel Farms became the site of the largest rescue effort in Pennsylvania, in which all nine miners trapped underground were rescued.
It was also the day Olivia was born.
“For a long time, Somerset, Pennsylvania stuck in my head,” Apfel said. “We drove through Somerset once on a trip, and I remembered thinking I might see something that would remind me of my dad. Then recently a video popped up on my phone. So I started to I searched the internet and saw the Quecreek Mine Rescue Site and his balloon was found in a coal mine in Somerset Strange coincidence.
Olivia Apfel decided at the luau-themed birthday party celebrating her 10th birthday, to see where the latex helium-filled balloons would go when she released them. She wrote her phone number and a message on the balloons, asking anyone who found them to call the phone number. She made a wish and released the balloons.
She received a call that the first balloon landed in Madison, Ohio, 250 miles from her home.
Then she got the call from a man who found the second balloon in a coal mine in Somerset, 384 miles from Apfel’s home and a seven-hour drive.
Michelle Apfel said she couldn’t remember the man’s name, but she said he found the balloon floating in a coal mine on his way to work.
She said after her internet search she realized the coincidence of her daughter’s birth on the day of the Quecreek mine rescue and the discovery of her balloon in a coal mine in Somerset County.
Olivia Apfel, now 19, is a student at a community college near her home in Michigan.
Follow Madolin Edwards on Twitter @DAMadolinE.