The Big Fat West Side Wedding!

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Last weekend’s Big Fat Westside Wedding at St. Demetrios was a great way to say “I do,” to life in response to personal tragedy.
The Prayers from Maria Foundation honored the memory of Maria McNamara with The Big Fat Westside Wedding last weekend at St. Demetrios.
Maria, a 7 year old victim of terminal brain cancer who lost her year-long battle with the disease in 2007, stands as the inspiration for the Prayers for Maria Foundation.
“Through it all, Maria showed tremendous character and dignity. Her strength, her courage and, most of all, her faith, left marks on our souls that have changed us forever,” report her parents, Ed and Megan McNamara. “She never thought of herself. Instead she chose to pray for all children suffering from cancer and their families. She prayed that the doctors would find a way to help them. She is our hero and her fight became our inspiration. Her prayers became our mission.”

The Big Fat West Side Wedding at St. Demetrios Cultural Center Saturday night was an outrageously fun evening for a great cause – “Prayers from Maria.”

It is sure to go down as one of the talked about charity events of the year.

Guests were invited to polka and electrical slide their way to raising funds towards the next research grant for Prayers from Maria, the Children’s Glioma Cancer Foundation.

“The goal with our fundraisers has always been to create something positive and upbeat out of something tragic,” said Megan McNamara.

Megan and Ed McNamara founded Prayers from Maria – Children’s Glioma Cancer Foundation, when they lost their daughter, Maria, at age 7 in 2007 to the disease.

Prayers from Maria is a grassroots foundation inspired by little Maria’s prayers that, someday, other children would not have to look at death’s door, but enjoy the life they were created for!

“The work we are funding is significant and unprecedented for these children,” said Megan.”Where there was darkness, a candle was lit and we can now see a path to follow.”

“Even though we are a smaller foundation, the contributions we are able to make can be significant,” added Ed.

Thanks to a $200,000 donation by Prayers from Maria last year, MetroHealth Center was able to gain $1.5 million in additional funding.

“We are very pleased about that,” said Ed McNamara. “The donation was used to collect the data Metro needed to receive the added funding. So it can make a big difference.”

“Increased funding via governmental grant mechanisms or philanthropic foundations will be paramount,” reports Dr. Paul Fisher, Stanford Cancer Center.

For the guests who hung on to their old bride’s maid dresses and awful wedding gowns, this was the night to shake out the mothballs!

“We took what everybody loves about a wedding – the reception – and used to raise money for a very important cause,” said benefit co-chair Maureen Tracey.

Ed and Megan were quick to thank those who made the benefit possible – Maureen Tracey, Corey Tracey, Maria Melacrinos, Brigette Hewis and Angie Hardman.

“We would like to thank the amazing team of wedding coordinators that have made this event possible,” said Megan. “They truly demonstrated that tacky can be classy!”

The night brought everything you want from a great wedding – fine food, rocking band and open bar! The spirit of the evening was to poke fun at wedding clichés, all for a good cause.

Coyne Catering ( at St. Demetrios (216-695-1160) prepared a wonderful meal, and the church hall was simply beautiful.

The funny thing was, nobody really got married…..they just showed up for the party. Maybe it’s better that way!

Ruffled gowns, ruffled shirts and Pepto-Bismal pinks were the rule for the night. So were Cinderella throwbacks and prom night rejects. This was the Revenge of the Big 80’s! Dreamy dresses and fashion foibles stood side by side with no apologies. The only thing missing was Molly Ringwald and a re-run of 16 Candles. Also missing was a shot gun to go with the expectant bride and her husband-to-be!

To learn more about Prayers from Maria and Children’s Glioma Cancer Foundation, please visit

Maria: “Her fight became our inspiration. Her prayers became our mission.”

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