Rallying together for ‘Marzie Days’

Sam Odrowski

For the past five years, a local women grows hundreds of plants from winter to spring in support of an organization that lies very close to her heart.
The fifth-annual “Marzie Days” is returning to Burriss this Saturday (May 26) in support of the Children’s Rehabilitation Foundation in Winnipeg that directly supports event organizer Barb Redford’s granddaughter, Mara, who has a very rare chromosome abnormality called 18 p deletion.
“My granddaughter is very special needs,” Redford noted. “She is coming up on nine years old and might weigh 31 pounds.
“She would be the equivalent to maybe a six- or a nine-month-old baby.”
The fundraiser starts at 9 a.m. at 1213 Highway 613 North, where people can purchase competitively-priced plants, flowers, hanging baskets, baked goods, and a delicious lunch to support an organization that helps to improve the lives of children every day.
What started out as a relatively small sale, with a couple hundred plants, has ballooned into a community gathering where an expected 1,600 plants will be sold.
Last year, Redford raised $8,000 alone from the sale and was able to donate a total of $14,000 to the Children’s Rehabilitation Foundation with the help of Great West Life, which matches her funds up to $6,000.
The fundraiser was started after Barb and her daughter, Tanya, who is Mara’s mother, participated in a walk-a-thon with Mara called “RBC Cruisin’ Down the Crescent.”
After participating in it for the first time several years ago, Barb Redford developed a vision of raising thousands of dollars for her granddaughter through a plant sale out of her home.
“I really don’t think I saw the scope of ‘Marzie Days’ that my mom did,” Tanya Redford admitted.
“My mom had a really big picture in mind and she has been dedicated to that picture–that goal of hers–for the last five years.
“It’s a really, really beautiful endeavour that my mom has undertaken,” she smiled.
In September, Barb bakes pies and perogies to raise enough funds to purchase hundreds of seeds for the plants that will be sold at the sale.
Then beginning in January, she starts in excess of 800 plants in her basement before moving them out into home-made greenhouses leading up to the sale.
The other 800 plants to be sold at Saturday’s sale are ordered from a company in New Brunswick and delivered prior to it.
Barb Redford conceded that putting on the sale is hard work, but the positive impact she makes on the Children’s Rehabilitation Foundation and her granddaughter’s care makes it all worthwhile.
“This rehab centre, it’s a good cause,” she remarked. “Unless you have a special needs child, you probably don’t realize what it takes.”
The centre provides Mara with the formula for her feeding tube, as well as diet care, body care, home care supplies, an accessible bed, accessible stroller, and toys that are modified so she can play with them.
“Anything a special needs child would need, they supply,” Redford said.
She is happy to help an organization that helps her daughter and granddaughter in so many ways.
Redford also said her neighbours have been instrumental in making an event of this magnitude possible.
“You couldn’t begin to do this without your neighbours and your friends,” she stressed.
“Everybody helps,” she added. “Honestly, it is unbelievable.”
Tanya Redford also is very appreciative of the community’s contributions for “Marzie Days.”
“It blows me away that this many people will come together,” she enthused.
“The amount of time and energy the people of our community put in to putting this together is so inspiring, and we feel so loved and supported by our community.
“The fact that they come out to support my mom, my daughter, and my family is something I will never be able to thank the community enough for,” Redford added.
“The generosity is endless.”
Over the past couple of years, Tanya and her family have been fortunate enough to visit for the sale, and she says there’s a real buzz in the community with people setting up tents and preparing for the sale.
“It is a bustle of activity with this goal of raising funds for the Children’s Rehabilitation Foundation to help children like Mara and families such as ours,” she remarked.
Tanya is encouraging everyone to come out to Burriss this Saturday and buy some quality plants to support a wonderful cause.
“If you want to come out for a day that touches your heart, and want to see people coming together for a good cause, come out on [May 26] and just soak up that energy, soak up that atmosphere, because it’s going to be a beautiful day,” she said.