Twinkies in space! High-flying balloon raises money for March of Dimes

Myrtle Beach witnessed the launch of a high-altitude fundraiser Friday.

It was a weather balloon that's raising dollars for a good cause. On board the craft was what may be the world's highest-flying cream-filled snack cake.

A crew from Fuel Interactive, a Grand Strand web design company, launched the balloon, dubbed Souvenir Two, from the beach front as the sun came up over Ocean Boulevard. Souvenir One was a test balloon.

Carried aloft with the weather balloon were a few cameras to record video and still images from far above Myrtle Beach, and some GPS units to track where the balloon would go.

"We also have stickers that say, 'This sticker's been to space,' as part of We also have several Myrtle Beach souvenirs, such as Myrtle Beach sand, key chains and so on," said Pete DiMaio, Fuel Interactive's director of business strategy.

The balloon also carried with it several unusual science experiments, including what could be the world's first Hostess Twinkie in space.

"So the question is, what happens to a Twinkie in almost zero gravity, almost a vacuum?" DiMaio asked.

With great anticipation and a dramatic countdown, the balloon launched at sunrise - and promptly came right back down again.

There was a second launch with the same result.

"We had to redo our math, reduce some weight and try it again," DiMaio said.

The third time proved to the charm and the balloon quickly soared above the Myrtle Beach skyline, headed for an expected altitude of 100,000 feet, or more.

The purpose of the flight was to raise money for the March of Dimes. Most of the dollars raised will stay in South Carolina.

"We provide many dollars toward education in our state, support advocacy and then the community grants, that's when the money comes directly back to our communities," said Crystal Hummer, executive director of the Pee Dee chapter of the March of Dimes.

The launch raised at least $2,500 dollars for the effort to prevent premature births and infant mortality, according to DiMaio.

The balloon came down in a swamp near Kingstree Friday afternoon. DiMaio said the balloon would not be recovered until Saturday.