Thieves strike volunteers helping Prayers From Maria: ‘We were crushed’

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AVON, Ohio-- By September, a fifty-acre field along Interstate 90 in Avon will become a sea of sunflowers.

It is the third year of the display originally planted by Ed and Megan McNamara as a sign of hope and to draw attention to their mission to help fight juvenile cancers.

"We were inspired to plant the field because we lost our daughter to a brain tumor back in 2007 and not a lot was being done for these kids and as a result one thing led to another and we ended up planting the sunflower field as a way to draw attention to the fact that not a lot is being done for kids who are diagnosed with brain tumors," said Megan.

They call their organization Prayers From Maria and the field has become a sign of inspiration drawing many local residents to take in its vastness when in full bloom.

To help make it more welcoming, volunteers from the Avon Lowe's store adopted Prayers From Maria as their 'local hero's' project, building a large, shaded observation deck and more on the property.

But when volunteers arrived on Monday they discovered that someone had broken into a storage pod on the property and stolen tools and supplies.

"They stole our generator, a table saw, a chop saw, a couple drills, most of our hardware we have been using to build a deck, our nuts and screws and stuff like that," said Lori Thomas, who describes the effort as a labor of love.

The thieves also took lumber and decking material that was stacked outside. "It is probably the lowest form of low I can think of. Who steals from a charity, especially a childhood brain cancer foundation? I just, I don't understand it," said Thomas.

"It was heart-wrenching when you see that someone comes down and takes advantage of people doing a good thing and, you know, you just kind of hope, I hope, that whoever took the stuff, you know, I hope they really needed it," said Ryco Crawford, one of the volunteers who has put in countless hours under the hot sun because he feels the project is so deserving.

"I would tell them that they really need to think about what they did and kind of dig deep. Understand why we are out here and just find a place in their heart to put whatever they have to the side, bring our stuff back," said Crawford.

Avon police are investigating. They said it is among several thefts of construction material that have been reported in the area but agree this particular crime sinks to an even deeper low.

"We were crushed. We are trying to do a good thing out here and Lowe's has been so amazingly wonderful. They sought us out and they really wanted to help us out with this project; they know what it does for the community and they were excited to be a part of it," said McNamara.

More information on Prayers From Maria here.

More stories on Prayers From Maria.

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