Water balloon battle at Oak Grove Park Sunday
by Mark Ledbetter
OAK GROVE — Talia Joy Castellano has a bucket list, and local volunteer fire departments are doing their part to help her cross one wish off the list.

The 13-year Floridian has battled cancer for seven years and is now facing two aggressive forms of cancer. She was recently hospitalized due to complications.

Talia gained national attention with her makeup applications featured on YouTube, and gained further attention appearing on the Ellen Degeneres Show, a dream-come-true for the young girl. It was on Degeneres’ show that the comedian and show host announced that CoverGirl was making Talia an honorary CoverGirl.

One event Talia has on her “bucket list” is to witness a huge water balloon battle.

The “bucket list,” derived from “kick the bucket,” the expression for dying, gained national prominence in producer Rob Reiner’s movie “The Bucket List,” staring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman. The 2007 comedy-drama features two terminally ill men who venture out on a road trip with a wish list of things they want to do before they “kick the bucket.”

Volunteers from the County Line, Oak Grove and Stewartville fire departments will square off for battle Sunday at 2 p.m. at Oak Grove Park to help Talia with her bucket list. The battle will continue until participants are too tired to battle or they run out of water balloons.

Brenda Gann, who is a member of both County Line and Oak Grove fire departments, discussed her plans with County Line Fire Chief Hugo Blankenship and Oak Grove Chief Charlie O’Barr about the event she organized.

Gann said Blankenship was the first to volunteer himself and his family, and O’Barr said he would be glad to participate.

Gann, whose father, Loren Pope, died with cancer in 2009, said she has seen Talia’s story on YouTube and it touched her heart, especially because her father died without being able to accomplish some of the things he wanted to before he died.

Other departments are invited to participate, and the public is invited to not only come out and watch the drenching, but also bring their own balloons and get involved in the free-for-all.

“It will be a lot of fun and it will help a dream come true,” Gann said.

She said the event will be videoed for Talia and sent to her, since she will be unable to attend because of the recent deterioration of her health.

Contact Mark Ledbetter at mledbetter@dailyhome.com.

© 2013