Shine Your Light Sunflower Tour raises over $6,000 for hospital

MAPLETON – The fourth annual Shine Your Light Sunflower Tour on Aug. 19 drew a large crowd for a day of outdoor fun in the sun.

The event, hosted by Leona Ottens on her farm near Moorefield featured market vendors, live music, children’s activities, food booths, yoga in the fields and a run through the sunflowers.

As of Sunday, with donations still being accepted, the event had raised more than $6,000 for the Palmerston and District Hospital Foundation, to be used for hospital equipment.

The sunflower event was launched in 2020 by Leona and her late husband Matt as a fundraiser for the Canadian Cancer Society. Despite Matt’s tragic death in an incident on Conestogo Lake on June 13, 2021, Leona has pressed on with the event, adding additional features and activities each year.

“Thank you to all those who came and to those who donated even when they couldn’t be with us. The committee and all the volunteers would like to say, ‘thank you for a beautiful day,’” stated Leona in a Facebook post.

In an email to the Advertiser, Ottens pointed out the Sunflower Tour has raised over $75,000 dollars since it’s inception. Proceeds from the first year went to Wheels for Hope, a program which helps cancer patients to their appointments. The rest of the money raised has gone to Palmerston hospital. 

“It’s not a lot of money in the medical world, but every little bit helps. Knowing we are 20 minutes away from a hospital is peace of mind,” she states.

Shine Your Light Sunflower Tour organizer Leona Ottens, right, with Palmerston District Hospital Foundation development officer Dale Franklin. Submitted photo

“Our family and the committee would like to say ‘thank you dearly for volunteering or participating in the event. Without you it wouldn’t be possible,’” she stated.

Though noting the number of volunteers who make the event a success is too long to list, Ottens cited several who make a major contribution: Marlene and John Ottens,  Mari-Anne Tinholt,  Rachel Eschlboeck,  Meg Yates, Carolyn Luymes, Amanda Stege, Tate Driscoll, Geraldine Nelson, the Kuepfer and Wilting families and “all of the kids.” 

“Many hands make for light work and a great time!” she noted.

Ottens also thanked Mapleton Fire Rescue for lending tents and tables. for the event. 

“You’ve seen us on our worst day and it sure feels good to see you on good ones. Thank you for all you have done for our family,” she stated. 

“This event all started because a beautiful man wanted to grow some sunflowers for his family. It’s been an incredible journey to see so many enjoy some fun on the farm,” she added.

“Matt was truly an incredible husband and father. He is missed by so many. At the end of a fun day in the sun it’s an honor to raise a glass together and give a toast to him.

“Amazing what can happen when we share our unique gifts and let our light shine.”

Sunflower express – A tiny train takes youngsters on a path along the sunflower fields at the fourth annual Shine Your Light Sunflower Tour at Leona Ottens’ farm near Moorefield on Aug. 19. Photo by Patrick Raftis