Hope is Blooming at ‘Prayers from Maria’ Sunflower Field

DSC_3783-1-12The Prayers from Maria sunflower field is in full bloom this week. People are flocking to the 16-acre lot at Chester and Jaycox Road in Avon to see what this field of faith is all about.

“A beautiful message sent to us from someone who visited our field: – ‘I drove past this field and had to turn around to see what it was all about. I had no idea how powerful and moving it would be. The sight of these bright, happy faced flowers brought tears to my eyes. As I stood in awe of the strength and hope these flowers symbolize, this little butterfly danced in the wind from plant to plant, seemingly delighted with joy. For all those lost loved ones, may they be as happy and free as this butterfly on this beautiful, sunny day.’”

Farmer John Betzel (left) planted 2 million sunfower seeds on 16 acres in Avon to bring the Prayers from Maria field to life again this summer. He had to plant it twice, after June rains washed the first crop away. He is pictured here with his wife, Ruth, and Ed & Megan McNamara.

Farmer John Betzel (left) planted 2 million sunfower seeds on 16 acres in Avon to bring the Prayers from Maria field to life again this summer. He had to plant it twice, after June rains washed the first crop away. He is pictured here with his wife, Ruth, and Ed & Megan McNamara.

That is the message posted on the Prayers from Maria Facebook site today.

The mission of Prayers from Maria is to raise funds for research grants in the fight against childhood brain cancer. Founders Ed and Megan McNamara of Avon Lake lost their daughter, Maria, to the disease at age 7 in 2007. They have since dedicated their lives to fighting gliomas (brain cancer) in children.

“We are doing this for all the children,” said Ed while at the field Sunday evening.

Their mission is in keeping with the spirit of Maria: “Her strength, her courage and, most of all, her faith, left marks on our souls that have changed us forever. 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.”

Prayers from Maria has awarded close to half a million dollars in research grants since 2007. In 2010, they awarded a $100,000 grant to fund the research of Dr. BingCheng Wang at Metrohealth Medical Center in Cleveland.  The investment has since turned into $3.3 million in grants from the National Cancer Institute, allowing Dr. Wang to continue his cutting edge research into brain tumor progression. In 2012, Prayers from Maria issued a $100,000 grant to Dr. Mark Kieran at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston to support a groundbreaking research study. In 2014, Prayers from Maria awarded the $250,000 Melana Matson Memorial Grant to Case Western Reserve University, Case Comprehensive Cancer Center researchers James Basilion, PhD, Efstathis Karathanasis, PhD, and John Letterio, MD, who are studying the use of nanotechnology to more effectively treat pediatric glioma brain tumors.

Visit the Prayers from Maria website for more information about this wonderful organization.

Click here to view the entire gallery.

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