Maria’s Sunflower Field of Hope are fields of sunflowers that bring attention to the lack of funding in childhood cancer. Less than 4% of federal funds are used for childhood cancer research. The fields/organization is named after Maria McNamara, a child who passed from glioma. Many people do not even know what a glioma is. A glioma is a tumor that is located in the brain and spinal cord. In most cases, gliomas are inoperable. The sunflowers are meant to memorialize the children who have passed from cancer and the ones who are currently battling cancer.
On September 29, the Today Show did a segment on the fields. Ed and Megan McNamara, Maria’s parents, created the sunflower fields in her honor. The field was first started with a small piece of land by the highway (Interstate 90). It was originally intended to bring attention to the project, but many people wanted to visit the fields. Ed and Megan noticed that many people wanted to memorialize their loved ones, friends or classmates. They would take a picture of that loved one and put it on a flower, which is how Prayers from Maria originally started.
The sunflower field in Avon, Ohio was first planted in 2013. It is a 26-acre field and in 2019, 780,000 seeds were planted. There is also an additional field by Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio. The field is 8 acres long, and 240,000 seeds were planted there. This is the 6th year for the project.
The sunflower fields are close to my hometown in Cleveland. It is something that brings the community together. I try to visit the sunflowers every year, as it brings a time of reflection, joy and healing. This organization means a lot to me because it is so close to my hometown, and my grade school participates in the Saint Baldrick Foundation’s Shave your Mane, which is another organization to raise money for childhood cancer. Each year, Saint Mark School in Cleveland raises thousands of dollars to go toward cancer research.
The organization is meant to bring light to childhood cancer, something that many people avoid talking about. The field honors and memorializes children who lost their lives to cancer, with names and pictures set up long the numerous pathways throughout the field.
Visiting the sunflower fields is truly a moving experience. As you walk through the field, there are signs of children who have passed or are battling cancer. It incites many to remember their son, daughter, classmate, or friend. It provides a beautiful photo-ready background but also brings attention to the cause. The more pictures that are posted, the more attention that the field gets.
These fields run solely on donations. For more information or if you would like to donate, go to www.prayersfrommaria.org
Facebook: Maria’s Field of Hope