Man Balloons from Nelson Mandela's Former Jail to Raise Money for Children's Hospital

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
April 6 2013 2:30 PM

Man Balloons from Nelson Mandela's Former Jail to Raise Money for Children's Hospital

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Matt Silver-Vallance flies above Table Bay from Nelson Mandela's island prison using giant helium-filled balloons on April 6, 2013 in Cape Town, South Africa.

Photo by RODGER BOSCH/AFP/Getty Images

A 37-year-old South African man used 200 giant party balloons to carry him across the Atlantic Ocean from Nelson Mandela's former jail in hopes of raising $1 million for the Nelson Mandela Children's Hospital in Johannesburg on Saturday.

Balloonist Matt Silver-Vallance, a South African-born manager at a medical device company, dropped a rope near the coastline and a sea rescue craft pulled him to safety.
He had hoped to raise $1 million for the hospital, but organizers of the charity event have not yet announced the final tally.
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The 3.7-mile journey to the South African mainland from Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 18 years, took around an hour to complete. The timing of the balloonist's journey honoring Mandela was especially appropriate, as the 94-year-old former South African president was discharged from the hospital Saturday after being treated for pneumonia.

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Emma Roller is a Slate editorial assistant. Follow her on Twitter.

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