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AVON, Ohio – It was a breathtaking scene that caught the eye of many: a sea of sunflowers along I-90.
They were planted in memory of Maria McNamara. The seven-year-old died from a rare form of brain cancer in 2007.
"Originally we were a little bit concerned about the sunflowers and how they were so beautiful and everyone loved them, but they're going to die,” recalls Maria’s Mother Megan McNamara. “So we kind of worried about that at first. But, then it dawned on us that there's such a parallel here with the kids.”
Two months later, the field is practically empty. Megan said it’s weird to see, but also rewarding. That’s because she knows the sunflowers are still alive, just in a different way.
"We couldn't let this field go without harvesting and using the seeds. We're going to be using the seeds for bird seeds,” she said.
The seeds were harvested on Monday. Soon, they’ll be packaged and sold in stores around the area.
Any money made will benefit “Prayers from Maria.” The foundation was created by Megan and her husband Ed. Their mission is to find a cure for pediatric brain tumors.
"In September, we awarded a $250,000 grant to Case Western Reserve University, and the researchers there are working on a new technology to help these kids, so it's all coming together beautifully,” said McNamara.
None of this would've been possible without a lot of help from people in the community, including a local farmer by the name of John Betzel.
He planted all of the sunflowers and care for them. As for how Maria might feel about the project, Megan said the answer is easy.
"She really cared about her friends who were sick and had brain tumors just like her and so I know that she loves what we're doing,” she said.
To learn more about the Foundation, click here: