AKRON, Ohio, May 27, 2011 – The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company’s three North American blimps are assisting the Department of Homeland Security/FEMA with a request for donations to aid 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.  For those not inclined to use texting there is a third message directing readers to a disaster relief website at WWW.NVOAD.ORG.

The messages run through June 13 over major sports events and other public appearances planned.  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 with 107,000 in attendance.

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

The blimp’s light boards use computer and LED technology that make it visible up to one mile away.  Daytime messages defeat the glaring competition from the Sun by concentrating more LEDs and power to a smaller matrix of 1,036 boards.  At dark, the full glory of color and animation are brought to life by the full complement of 3,780 boards holding a total of 82,656 LED.  In addition to words, it lights up the sky with colorful animations that make watchers stare. 

“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,” said Ed Ogden, Spirit of Goodyear’s public relations manager.  “This is an activity the Goodyear blimps have long been known to do.”

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.

 Goodyear is one of the world’s largest tire companies.  It employs approximately 72,000 people and manufactures its products in 55 facilities in 22 countries around the world.  Its two Innovation Centers in Akron, Ohio and Colmar-Berg, Luxembourg strive to develop state-of-the-art products and services that set the technology and performance standard for the industry.  For more information about Goodyear and its products, go to www.goodyear.com.