Third annual Shine Your Light Sunflower Tour/Run raises over $15,000 for local hospital, Ukrainian family

MAPLETON – The  2022 Shine Your Light Sunflower Tour/Run – the third since the event was intitiated – was a success once again, raising thousands for local causes.

The Aug. 20 event, hosted by Leona Ottens on her farm near Moorefield, featured 19 market vendors, live music, the Alma Optimists and Drayton Kinsmen selling food and ice cream, and a run through the sunflower fields.

“We are so grateful for every single person that came out or donated,” said Ottens.

The sunflower tour raised money for Palmerston and District Hospital, while funds from the run are going to purchasing bedding for a Ukrainian family, two of whom are arriving in Canada in September. The family will be based outside of Waterloo.

About $13,000  was raised from the tour as of Aug. 22, with donations still being accepted, and $2,500 was raised from the run.

During the event, Ottens was presented with a Queen’s Platinum Jubilee pin by Perth-Wellington MP John Nater, “for all her work offering the farm for this community event, especially in spite of losing her husband in the middle of it,” explained Marlene Ottens in an email.

The sunflower event was launched in 2020 by Leona and her 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.

“There’s lots of good people out there, and I know a lot of people who deserve something like that…  I think it’s very generous,” Ottens said on receiving the pin.

The pin is being kept in Ottens’  mother’s china cabinet.

“I’m not responsible enough to take care of it on my own,” she joked.

In past years the event has drawn about 1,000 visitors. This year there were about 700 attendees. Ottens added it’s likely because there were more events happening on the same weekend than in past years.

The run had “a great turnout,” of 136 runners, she added.

As an additional attraction for event day next year on Aug. 12, 2023, Ottens is considering holding a dinner in the sunflower field on top of the other activites.

“Looking at the whole day as it was unfolding, it’s kind of like looking at what accepting help looks like, because if we think we’re going to do everything on our own, it just can’t be as good,

“Our family has been shown we really have to accept help to survive this grief. And it sure is a beautiful thing when you do, because people just made the day so great,” she said.

“Thank you to the committee and all the volunteers,” said Ottens.

Committee members were: Meg Yates, Leona Ottens, Marlene Ottens, Dale Franklin, Rachel Eschlboeck, Tate Driscoll, Mari-Anne Tinholt, and Amanda Stege.

Olivia Rumbell