One morning, around the first of September, 2014, I was driving south on Lear Road and as I approached the I-90 overpass in Avon, I was astounded to see a long, thick line of sunflowers that magically appeared and stretched along I-90 further than I could see. “This wasn’t here yesterday,” I thought. I made an effort to drive home the same way to get a better look. The sunflower patch stretched all the way from Lear Road to Jaycox Road in an impressive expanse of brilliant yellow and green.
A day or two later, I decided to see this beautiful sunflower patch up close. I had to drive along a bumpy dirt road alongside a field of soybeans to get to the flowers, and I was worried that I might be trespassing. When I arrived at the flowers, I was amazed and delighted and the scene before me. Rows and rows of gorgeous sunflowers, raising their faces to the sun with a bright blue sky to enhance their contrast of yellow petals. Almost all of the sunflowers had bumblebees in their center, seeking nectar. It was a glorious sight to behold.
I had no idea who planted this astounding display of flowers, or why. All I knew was that one day in early September, all of these beautiful flowers bloomed at the same time. It turns out that I was not the only one to be transfixed. I started seeing other cars trekking off road to see the sunflowers. Finally, the mystery was unveiled, a sign was posted that these sunflowers were planted by the Prayers From Maria Foundation. Maria McNamara was diagnosed with a diffused intrinsic pontine glioma when she was 6 years old, and passed away at age 7. The flowers planted symbolize hope for all children battling deadly glioma brain tumors.
What an amazing, beautiful way to inspire hope in the name of one very strong, special little girl. In the end of her life, Maria was not praying for herself anymore…she was praying for others who were – and will be – fighting the same illness, and wishing for a cure for them.
These flowers will bloom for years and years to come. They will delight those passing by on I-90 every September. They will remind those who know the story of Maria, and the prayers that she is still praying for others. They will bring a smile to the faces of all who see the beauty of Maria’s Miracle Mile.
What better legacy can a person leave behind on this earth than Beauty, Hope and a Mile of Smiles.
God is good, indeed!