Ten-year-old Fisher Hicks recently came across a new hobby that has gone beyond what he and his family imagined.
While at McLean County High School, where his mother Cary Hicks teaches science, Fisher Hicks came across a box of balloons in his mother’s desk that were being used for a lab class, and things took shape rather quickly with a simple click on the computer.
“Next thing I know, I (made) a dog,” Fisher Hicks said.
A week later, the fifth-grade student at Calhoun Elementary School took a bunch of balloons with him to a Super Bowl party to keep people entertained.
“It was a huge hit,” Cary Hicks said. “All the kids loved it and the parents did, too….”
“I didn’t even get to see the Bengals (lose),” Fisher Hicks said.
Fisher Hicks picked up the art of balloon twisting after watching a number of YouTube tutorials, pointing out the simply named Balloon Animals YouTube channel.
Since then, Fisher Hicks has expanded his balloon animal repertoire to include the likes of other animals such as bunnies, donkeys, flamingos, giraffes, horses, monkeys and turtles, while also creating other objects like a Star Wars blaster, swords and even Pikachu from “Pokémon” — all of which he can create from start to finish in the matter of one to three minutes.
“You can make anything out of balloons…,” Fisher Hicks said.
Fisher Hicks takes the art form seriously and is keen on continuing to challenge himself with new creations.
“Usually, I practice with like three balloons…,” Fisher Hicks said. “…I’m still working on an octopus. I pop them every time.”
However, the process is not always easy — especially when making a flamingo.
“…I have to twist (the legs) in a weird way or else one leg will be off to the side instead of standing down,” Fisher Hicks said.
But he doesn’t let that discourage him from sharing his newfound skills with others.
In a short amount of time, Fisher Hicks has gone from learning the art to giving people an experience to watch and to take home.
“He talked about how much fun he had and enjoyed making all the little kids smile (at the Super Bowl party),” Cary Hicks said. “So, I told him to talk to Ms. (Kim) Gatton (principal at CES) at school about doing something….”
After mustering up the courage to ask, Fisher Hicks began showingcasing his talents to the kindergarten and first graders, making balloon animals as rewards for students almost every day around 2 pm
“…It’s fun when teachers at school send pictures of him making balloon animals,” Cary Hicks said. “…One of the first-grade teachers call him ‘The Balloon Slinger.’ ”
He’s even been sharing the inflatable craft at birthday parties.
But Fisher Hicks wants to spread the joy beyond the McLean County community.
Originally, Fisher Hicks intended on making his creations for patients at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis in-person but was not of the approved age of 16 to volunteer and some of the sections of the facility are latex-free.
But that didn’t deter Fisher Hicks from finding a way around it.
On April 9, Fisher Hicks volunteered his time and talents at Foe Family Farm’s “Easter on the Farm” event and even got to meet a former patient and cancer survivor who was in attendance.
While he didn’t charge for his services, Fisher Hicks accepted donations in order to raise $350.
“Mom told me that they do cancer treatments for free for kids and I thought that was a very nice thing and I wanted them to keep doing it,” Fisher Hicks said.
“I love it,” Cary Hicks said. “His dad and I are really big on making sure that every day… to be kind to others….”
Fisher Hicks’ schedule already seems to be filling up, as he has another planned appearance at Calhoun Chiropractic Center’s “Eggstravaganza Egg Hunt” at Myer Creek Park this Saturday to raise more funds for St. Jude’s in hopes to deliver the final check to them personally.
His next goal is to raise $400 for the Western Kentucky Veterans Center in Hanson, where his late great-grandfather resided before passing away.
“Fisher got to see how good of work they do at the veterans home and how well they took care of Papaw,” Cary Hicks said.
Fisher Hicks’ overall future plans are about improving and expanding.
“I would love to get better and go on tour,” Fisher Hicks said.
No matter what direction Fisher Hicks takes with his balloons, he is content keeping up his chops for the sheer love of the craft and bringing delight to the people he encounters.
“It just gives me a lot of joy and it makes me feel warm inside,” Fisher Hicks said. “…Whenever I make a balloon animal and give (it to someone) and they smile, it makes me very happy, and I just want to keep doing it to make people happy.”