Little Mary’s to hold annual fundraiser

Volunteers and board members of Little Mary’s Hospitality House serve food to attendees at last year’s fundraiser gala. (Ashlyn Korienek/News Advocate)

WELLSTON — For nearly four decades, the Little Mary’s Hospitality House, has provided free vacations to children battling life-threatening, terminal or debilitating illness and their families on the shore of Little Crystal Lake.

To raise funds toward Little Mary’s, the nonprofit organization’s annual fundraiser — a Medieval-themed festival and banquet — will be held July 27 at the Norman Township Community Center, located at 1273 South Seaman road in Wellston. The fundraiser will feature a full lineup of activities including a banquet, silent auction and grand raffle.

The event opens at noon with an outdoor festival featuring family-friendly activities including games, a bake sale and a bounce house for the kids.

The dinner, which will feature prime rib, broasted chicken, steamed root vegetables, buttered bread, relishes and cheese cake will be donated by Mark and Teresa Fischer, proprietors of Fischer LP Gas Co. and prepared by Little Mary’s co-founder Tom Fischer. Hot dogs, chips and popcorn will also be available for purchase during the outdoor activities.

A silent auction featuring a variety of donated items will run throughout the event while the grand raffle drawing will take place after the banquet. This year’s raffle items include a topaz and silver ring and bracelet set, a gift certificate to the Dublin General Store, an HDTV, a photo printer, a home security system and a handcrafted quilt.

Medieval skits and performances are planned, followed by a keynote speech. Ryan Beilfuss and his son Joel will speak about their experiences with Little Mary’s and the positive benefits the organization has had on their lives.

The annual event is Little Mary’s lone fundraiser of the year, so expectations are high among the organization’s staff.

“We’re hoping to raise a good sum of money because that’s our only source of income,” said Little Mary’s house manager, Marilee Duncan. “So our whole goal is to raise money for Little Marys for the year.”

Each year, the gala raises anywhere from $24,000 to $35,000 toward Little Mary’s, which benefits year-round operations and regular upgrades at the facility.

“Every year we like to do a couple of projects,” said Duncan. “The building is 100 years old, so there’s always something to do.”

Tickets for the event will be available for purchase at the door.

Little Mary’s Hospitality House was founded by Tom and Maureen Fischer in memory of their three-year-old daughter Mary Catherine who died of a terminal brain tumor in 1982. The Fischers have cherished their final family vacation with Mary and have turned the traumatic death of their daughter into a miracle for other families who face the loss of a child.

The Fischers have devoted their lives to providing other families with the opportunity to create lasting memories away from home and hospitals.

The result has been decades of respite for troubled families at the Little Mary’s retreat located in Northern Michigan’s scenic woodlands.

For more information about Little Mary’s Hospitality House call (231) 848-4699 or visit www.littlemarys.org.

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