20 August, 2019 | 2 min read

Building Bridges: Presents Brenda


“Adventure is worthwhile in itself." -Amelia Earhart

Brenda Heeke and her husband love adventure. Their passion: flying hot air balloons all over California. Her husband would pilot the balloons and Brenda would relish in the natural beauty and diversity of California.

"It's like seeing California from the heavens," says Brenda. She and her husband also loved sharing their hobby with others. They delighted in taking hundreds of people on tours of California from the sky. When they conducted tours, her husband would pilot the balloon and Brenda drove the van below on the ground. Their van became known as “chase patrol”. They were connected only by walkie talkie and sight. Her job was to follow the hot air balloon and arrive at the final landing destination before her husband. Once she arrived, Brenda would help lower the balloon and assist their guests to safely disembark.

Brenda and her husband also took part in numerous air balloon shows across the state, the last of which was in 1992 when they participated in the famous Reno Air Show. Brenda's adventurous spirit shows the sky is the limit when it comes to following your dreams.


Brenda recently had the privilege to be a part of a group of residents from Eskaton who met with graduating students from the Sierra Academy of Expeditionary Learning (SAEL). She shared with her students her love for adventure and travel. She was paired with students for a whole semester and would meet with them every Thursday. During that time, they learned about one another, shared stories and developed friendships.

Brenda also collaborated with SAEL's students to create an "I am" poem. This poem captures the creative and adventurous spirit she brought to her life.

I am Brenda Heeke Poem

I am from paint on my fingers,
From pencil shavings and paintings
I am from upstairs bedroom, next to Mom and Dad
Quiet and small, the smell of Mother’s perfume
I am from amaryllis
Growing in a long straight stalk, firm with five red petals
I’m from summer parties in the yard, and ice skating in the winter
From Sally and Mark, and learning from Sonja Henie
I’m from Mother quietly setting an example and Father giving me a love for sports
From don’t speak to strangers and let the boys come to you first
I’m from leading Bible study and my faith
I’m from the town of Buffalo on Lake Erie
Split pea soup, and Spaghettios
From the time my father made me go off the diving board into the pool
The soft smile of Mother, a twinkle in her eye
The Eiffel Tower, my ‘59 Chevy convertible
And the school room attic
Teaching children how to draw

Brenda loves adventure and continues to find ways to learn and grow at Eskaton Village Grass Valley.