Michel featured in uplifting fundraiser for critically injured children

by Sara Hill

Life is worth celebrating.

Contessa Michel of BoBella Party Design & Gifts couldn’t have picked a more appropriate tagline when she started her balloon business a year ago.

The Broadview Heights business owner was recently selected to participate in the Give Kids the World Village immersive balloon wonderland in Orlando, Fla. Give Kids the World Village is an 89-acre nonprofit resort providing cost-free wish vacations to critically ill children and their families.

Michel was one of roughly 400 balloon artists chosen from around the globe to assist in creating towering, themed balloon displays as part of a fundraising event for the organization.

Billed as the most “uplifting” fundraiser ever, the balloon wonderland used more than 500,000 balloons to create fantastical areas including Toyland, the Enchanted Forest and Under the Sea in a 30,000 square foot event facility. Held July 16 at the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress in Orlando, Michel worked with balloon artists from Brazil, Australia, Venezuela, England and several other locales donating their time and travel expenses to create the memorable space and raise funds for the Village, which is made possible by donor and community support, as well as thousands of volunteers. 

“I was really honored to be there. It was an incredible experience just to see their little eyes light up. It was very well-organized and prepared,” Michel said. “We had 46 different countries represented, but we said, ‘We all speak balloon!’”

To be considered for the event, an application process was required that asked for a portfolio of work, background experience and other items. The fundraiser included seven balloon scenes and artists followed “recipes” to create each area.

“Our producer spent ten months creating the recipes; he wrote down everything from sizing of balloons, how many were needed for each structure, and more,” Michel said. “We had a team to do the rigging and wiring. All the machines and equipment were donated. It took me about a week to help create the wonderland.”

Michel, who owns ExecuStyle Salon in Broadview Heights, started BoBella Party Design & Gifts a year ago specializing in balloon art, garland, bouquets, arches and more.

“Balloons give people so much joy, and that’s what really strings my heart,” she said. “I just love to see people happy. There are so many terrible things going on and I just try to bring joy to others.” ∞

Photo: Broadview Heights balloon artist Contessa Michel worked with approximately 400 fellow balloon designers from across the nation this summer to create massive balloon art sculptures as part of the Give Kids the World Village fundraiser in Orlando. Photo submitted.