Sunflower Wine Festival Packs Old River Shopping Area

DSC_3802-15,000 party-goers packed the streets of the Old Detroit Road shopping area in Rocky River on Saturday, July 11 for The Sunflower Wine Festival hosted by the Prayers from Maria Foundation.

The Prayers from Maria Foundation was founded by Ed and Megan McNamara of Avon Lake in honor of their daughter, Maria, who died of a rare form of cancer in 2007 at age 7.

Their organization is dedicated to funding global research into the causes, prevention, treatments, and cure for the deadliest childhood brain tumors known as gliomas.

DSC_3791-1The McNamaras and friends have built this important foundation to honor the memory of little Maria, whose inspiration continues to touch hearts today and into the future.

“Maria 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,” recall the McNamaras of their daughter’s struggle.  Her selflessness stirred the genesis of the foundation and its name, “Prayers from Maria.”

“She is our hero and her fight became our inspiration. Her prayers became our mission.”

DSC_3794-2Some of their other fundraising events include the Sunflower Soiree, Fox 8 Fox Trot on Aug. 30 and the Buck Cancer Golf Outing at Avon Oaks on Sept. 11

The Sunflower Field in Avon along I-90 near Jaycox Road is also part of the Prayers from Maria outreach effort. Last year, thousands flocked to this spot along I-90 for unique photo opportunities or to simply enjoy the gift of vibrant summer colors. Some posted photos of their own families’ cancer patients.

This year, the size of the field has been doubled to fill the entire parcel of land from Chester Road at Jaycox south to the freeway.

Fr. Timothy Gareau of St. Raphael Church in Bay Village joined with the McNamara family to bless the field last week. The ceremony captured the very real presence of love that the sunflower field represents.

“We did everything humanly possible to save our daughter, but in the end we could only helplessly stand by as she endured the unimaginable,” report the McNamaras. “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.”

Maria’s presence was noted by Megan McNamara after last week’s blessing.

“Father Tim and I noticed this little sunflower looking over the field as we were leaving,” said Megan.

“She always let’s us know she is there.”

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Click here for the Sunflower Wine Festival Gallery

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