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T-e-x-t-i-n-g spells tornado relief

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Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.’s three North American blimp are helping those devastated by recent tornados

The airships -- Spirit of Goodyear in Ohio, Spirit of Innovation in Florida and Spirit of America in California -- are using their electronic signs to display disaster relief messages directing people to donate by text via the Salvation Army or the American Red Cross.

The blimps are assisting the Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

"Goodyear's blimps add a wide reach and unique nature to our messages," says FEMA Director of Private Sector Dan Stoneking. "We greatly appreciate their willingness to provide very valuable assistance at a time of great need."

The messages will run through June 13, 2011, over major sports events and other planned public appearances. Already, the Spirit of Goodyear has activated its effort over large crowds at two premier sports assignments: the Kentucky Derby, which drew a record-breaking crowd of 165,000, and the Preakness Stakes, which boasted 107,000 in attendance.

The blimps use computer and LED (Light-Emitting Diode) technology that make the light boards visible up to one mile away. Daytime messages eliminates glare from the sun by concentrating more LEDs and power to a smaller matrix of 1,036 boards. At dark, the color and animation are brought to life by the full complement of 3,780 boards holding a total of 82,656 LED.

“It’s a wonder in the night sky, something of unique quality that entertains adult and child alike, and we’re happy to lend it over to such a valuable cause as helping our neighbors in need,” says Ed Ogden, Spirit of Goodyear’s public relations manager.

The three blimps travel, on average, a combined 50,000 miles a year and expect to bring the relief messages to more than half a million people over a wide variety of public appearances before they are done.

To donate $10 via the American Red Cross, text “Red Cross” to 90999. To donate $10 via The Salvation Army, text “GIVE” to 80888. Messaging and data rates may apply.

For those not inclined to use texting there is a third message directing readers to a disaster relief Web site, www.nvoad.org.

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