“Marie is a vibrant, mature young lady with supreme artistic abilities,” said Nelsa Cox, owner of the Garden Hut, who announced a special program will take place from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m., to benefit the daughter of former employee Brenda Neal who has five years of service at the Hut.
The Children’s Organ Transplant Association (COTA) benefit for Marie Neal is a national charity dedicated to organizing communities in raising funds for transplant needy patients. Saturday’s fund-raising event begins with Carol Stein’s Gardeners Forum, “Getting Back to Our Roots.” Those on hand will learn to plant an old timey late summer veggie garden. It’s free, but registration is requested by calling 919-552-0590.
Following the Forum an old-fashioned ice cream social will begin at noon. A raffle will be held and there will be a dunking booth and other family fun such as water gun games and a daylily toss. A $10 donation per person is requested: additional donations are greatly appreciated. Checks should be made payable to COTA with “Marie Neal” on the memo line. Dunking booths and game tickets are cash only. All proceeds will go to COTA and are tax deductible.
Born Feb. 16, 1993, Marie has been diagnosed with alpha-1-antitypsin deficiency, a genetic disorder. Doctors at Duke University Medical Center in Durham recommended a life-saving liver transplant. She is on the donor list, waiting. Her father Joe works for N.C. State University in the Horticultural Science Department, and her mom, Brenda, have given much expertise to gardeners over the years.
In describing her as a vibrant and mature young lady with artistic abilities, Hut owner Cox also describes Marie as an all American child who went from living the dream to a child with a serious illness and the drive termination to get through it.
“All she wants is the transplant so she can get on with her life,” Cox said. “I think it’s important to the family, who are good people with many ties to Fuquay-Varina and the surrounding area. Money cannot fix everything, but reaching your hand out and giving a hug, your time, or a donation will help them know the love and support of this community. For the five years that Brenda worked with us, she gave her expertise to each individual client who came to the Garden Hut. I hope to get as many people involved and hope it will mean something to the people Brenda touched and they will want to give back. Helping others, especially through critical times, is what makes to world go round.”
The Garden Hut is located at 1004 Old Honeycutt Road in Fuquay-Varina.
Marie says she’s feeling fine with the medicine she’s taking. “I’m basically living a normal life. I missed some school being in the hospital, but I’ve made that up,” she added. “I’m a rising Junior at Athens Drive High School and I completed my school year.” She said her teachers were really flexible, adding that she has some dietary restrictions, but other than that she is just waiting to see what develops. “There’s really no way to know when it’s going to happen. When my condition gets worse I’ll move up the list for the liver. People that are higher on the list are the ones that get the liver first.”
Is there something she could tell other kids or young people?
“I guess – live everyday to its fullest,” she shrugged. “You never know what’s going to happen, and you really have to appreciate the things you have and appreciate your friends and family and the life you live,” she smiled.
She got out of school June 9 and will go back Aug.ust 25.
Is there anything she’d like people in general to know?
“My friends and everybody at the school have been so supportive and I appreciate that so much. My boy friend, Andrew Arocq and I have been dating for three years. He’s a rising Senior at Holly Springs High School and has been so helpful and caring as have my friends and everyone at my school.”