Shine Your Light Sunflower Tour to raise funds for Palmerston hospital

Run/walk option added for 2021 event - the first without co-founder Matt Ottens

MAPLETON – The second Shine Your Light Sunflower Tour will take place Aug. 14, organizers have announced.

The event was launched last summer by Matt and Leona Ottens as a fundraiser for the Canadian Cancer Society, despite challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.

This year the event, which will raise funds for the Palmerston and District Hospital (PDH) Foundation, is going ahead despite Matt’s tragic death in an incident on Conestoga Lake on June 13.

Matt died while assisting a child who had gone overboard off a boat from which the family was swimming. The child was pulled safely from the water, but the 33-year-old never resurfaced.

PDH foundation development officer Dale Franklin is assisting with registration for the event.

“With Matt’s loss we weren’t really sure what was going to happen, but Leona decided that she wanted to move forward,” said Franklin.

“They already planted the sunflowers” and “had decided together, ahead of Matt’s death, that the proceeds were going to come to PDH this year.”

The 2021 Shine Your Light Sunflower Tour, which features walks through a 20-acre sunflower field and a “homegrown and handmade” market, will be held on Aug. 14 on the Ottens farm near Moorefield.

Last year the event was held over two days, raised nearly $14,000 for the Canadian Cancer Society’s Wheels of Hope foundation.

Franklin said Leona is aiming to increase the total to $15,000 this year.

Matt and Leona Ottens presented $13,800 in proceeds from the 2020 Shine Your Light Sunflower Tour to the Canadian Cancer Society’s Wheels of Hope foundation. Advertiser file photo

“We will likely have a slightly greater number of people, hopefully, come through this year if all the time slots get booked up, then we even did last year over the two days,” said Franklin.

Participants can book one of 60 time slots between 9am and 7pm for groups of up to five people. Five groups of five will be allowed per time slot. The cost is $50 which will be donated to the PDH foundation.

Franklin said organizers have worked with public health to ensure the event is consistent with current COVID-19 safety measures.

“We’re following guidelines and we’re keeping people as safe as we can,” she pointed out.

“And thankfully it’s an outdoor event, which makes people feel a lot more comfortable and there’s a whole lot of vaccination that’s happened this year that wasn’t part of the equation last year.”

A new element for this year’s event is a Shine Your Like Walk/Run. Participants can walk or run two, five or 10 kilometres. The walk/run finishes up in the sunflowers and participants have been factored into the overall count, Franklin notes.

Cost to run or walk the course is a $30 donation. There is also a free kids run/walk.

Franklin notes Leona is a personal trainer while Matt “was incredibly focused on strength and health conditioning.”

“Leona felt it was so important (to incorporate a run into the event) because there have been so few opportunities for people to really participate in that type of physical activity over the past year,” said Franklin.

There are separate online processes to sign up for the tour and the walk/run.

For the tour visit and for the walk/run visit