In 2001, Abbie Steger, then in second grade, took part in a tradition that has been going on for decades at St. Mark Church in Edgewood, Iowa.

On the Sunday after Easter, the small, tightknit parish’s first Communion class stands on a lawn outside the church and releases balloons. They carry a poem and a personal message by each child.

The note asks whoever finds the balloon to contact the parish to let the child know where it ends its journey.

Steger, now a 20-year-old sophomore at the University of Northern Iowa, received word that the parish heard from people who found the note that was with her balloon.

Steger’s balloon had floated onto a farm in Hatfield, Wis. The farmer-owners found the note after a huge flood. It was recovered in a culvert near a swamp.

The farthest a balloon has traveled is to the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee.