Mattel Inc. to make Arizona’s Christmas Balloon story into movie

KOLD News 10-10:30 p.m. recurring
Published: Dec. 22, 2021 at 10:54 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Mattel Inc. just announced it will make a movie based on a true story that unfolded in Southern Arizona.

KOLD first brought you the story of Randy and Marcella Heiss in December 2018.

That is when Randy said he came across a red balloon while out walking his dog in Patagonia.

The balloon had popped, so Randy initially just thought it was trash, but then he saw something.

“There was a ribbon tied to that balloon and there was a scrolled-up note at the end of the ribbon. As I unrolled it, I saw it had Dáyami’s name on it and I could see it was a Christmas list,” Randy said.

Written in Spanish, the Christmas wish list included things like clothes, art supplies, and a “casa Enchantimals”, a Mattel toy.

Randy said he rushed home to show the list to his wife.

“Where he found it, hardly anybody would ever walk there; it is just a private, little trail. If it had been ten yards further, he would have never seen it,” Marcella said.

The couple said finding the wish list gave them joy at a time of the year that was typically filled with grief after losing their only child.

“We don’t have kids or grandkids. We weren’t invited to any family gatherings,” Marcella said.

Randy said he contacted Radio XENY in Nogales, Sonora to see if they would share the story in hopes someone would know Dáyami.

“Finding her was the miracle because, within an hour, they had a video of Dáyami and her cousins releasing the balloon,” Marcella said.

The couple said the radio station put the families in touch and arranged a meeting where the Heisses hand-delivered gifts to the family, fulfilling the Christmas wish list and beyond.

“They were just so sweet,” Marcella said. “On Christmas Day, they sent us pictures of the girls opening the gifts.”

The Heisses said they thought the story would stop there, but it didn’t.

“We just followed up with getting to know them better. Now, it’s been three years and it feels like they are our familia too,” Marcella said.

From birthday parties to holidays, the families continue to get together to celebrate special occasions.

“They have given us a bigger gift than we could ever return to them, and that is their love and their genuine welcoming into their family,” Randy said.

This story of kindness has now traveled further than the balloon, making it all the way to Mattel’s headquarters.

The company sent Marcella and Randy boxes of toys to give Dáyami and her siblings.

“We get to be Santa’s helpers,” Marcella said.

Marcella said Mattel sent more than enough toys, so Dáyami could experience the joy of giving as well.

This story of kindness will soon be heard all over the world.

Mattel announced plans to develop the family drama Christmas Balloon into a live-action motion picture.

“Much like Dáyami’s balloon itself, the journey of this touching story and Mattel’s direct role in fulfilling her real-life wishes made it a must-do for us,” said Kevin McKeon, VP of Mattel Films, in a press release.

According to Mattel, Gabriela Revilla Lugo will write the original screenplay based on the true story.

“I am honored to bring Dáyami’s journey to life in a time when it’s clear we all need to believe in hope and magic,” Lugo said in the press release.

Lugo is best known for executive producing Hulu/Neon’s Palm Springs and Netflix’s The Starling, starring Melissa McCarthy.

Christmas Balloon will be the 14th Mattel Film in development.

“I really do want to see this movie fold out and go out to the world and inspire people to perform those simple acts of kindness in their everyday lives, not just at Christmas. The world will be such a better place for it,” Randy said.

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