Sunflower field east of Harrisonburg opens for Walk for Hope fundraiser
In 2014, the Frazier family planted a field of sunflowers along well-traveled Route 33. They didn’t quite anticipate the impact of the flowers on passers-by, who stopped cars, gawked, took photos and trespassed to enjoy the unique sight.
The field, located at the junction of Jim Britt Way and Va. 33 east of Harrisonburg, will be open from 8 a.m.-8 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 3, for flower picking and photos. A donation of $5/bundle is suggested to benefit Walk for Hope.
Each spring, Walk for Hope draws area college students and community members together to raise awareness about mental health, depression and suicide among college-age youth. The event was founded and funded by Bibb and Dolly Frazier, who lost their son, Austin, in 2009 after a long battle with bipolar disorder.
Sturdy, close-toed shoes are recommended, as are a set of pruners. Sunflower stalks can be tough, says Mike Frazier, the company’s health, safety, and environmental coordinator. “Pick a few, give one to a loved one, a friend, or a complete stranger. Spread the love because you never know just how much that flower can mean to someone.”
The Fraziers request that vehicles do not stop or park at any other time because of safety on the heavily trafficked road and out of respect for neighbors.
2017 Walk for Hope planned for March 25
The 2017 Walk for Hope will be Saturday, March 25, and is hosted by Eastern Mennonite University. The event is co-sponsored by the Austin Frazier Memorial Fund, Eastern Mennonite University, James Madison University, Bridgewater College and Blue Ridge Community College. Since its founding in 2011, the site of the annual walk has rotated among supporting colleges and universities.
The Austin Frazier Memorial Fund honors Austin, who was a junior at James Madison University when he died in 2009.
In 2010, the Frazier family helped to start an innovative mentoring program at EMU called CoachLink, in which trained adult mentors are paired with students in informal and supportive coaching-style relationships.
Story by Lauren Jefferson