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Meredith’s MIracles brings MIckey and Gang to town

A wide-eyed little girl, chin propped on hand, smiles winsomely at the camera. Her name was Meredith McGlamory. In 2003, cancer took her life at the age of five.

From that tragedy something positive has resulted: a nonprofit organization, Meredith’s Miracles, founded in 2005 by Meredith’s parents, Janna and Russell, in their hometown of Andalusia.

Since its inception, the organization has donated tens of thousands of dollars to the families of sick children in south Alabama, providing assistance with those non-medical expenses that can quickly add up during a medical crisis.

“We’ve helped people with everything from lodging expenses, rental cars, gas and meals to plane tickets. We’ve driven folks to treatment centers and hospitals,” said June Simpson, Meredith’s grandmother and an active Miracle Worker, as its volunteers are known, with the group.

Now Meredith’s Miracles is bringing its first event to the Camellia City as it looks to expand and bring a satellite chapter to Greenville. “We are already assisting some families in the Greenville area, but we want to reach out to even more,” Simpson said. “Right now, people either have to wait for a check in the mail or make a trip to Andalusia to get assistance. A local chapter can provide help right away.”

On May 1, Meredith’s Miracles will present a “Spring Fling with Mickey and the Gang” in Confederate Park from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.

“Children get to sing, dance, play games and have their photos taken with their favorite Disney characters like Mickey, Minnie, Donald Duck, Daisy, Goofy and Pluto,” said Simpson.

Meredith’s Miracles has become well known for their Cookies with Characters fundraising events in Andalusia.

Wanting to enlarge upon the idea of a Breakfast with Santa-type event that could be held year-round, the group began collecting character costumes, adding a few new ones each year. They now have nearly three dozen different characters, including the newest, Buzz Lightyear and Woody.

“These are fantastic-looking costumes that cost several hundred dollars in some cases,” Simpson said. “The kids just love seeing them. These events have proved to be a great fundraising tool for us.”

Meredith’s Miracles also rents a house in Andalusia where their popular Easter and Valentine’s Day shops are located. It is available for rental for birthday parties, reunions and other special occasions. An annual fish fry that is “more of a fish party” brings plenty of food, fun and funds raised for the cause.

“We’ve proven our ability to raise funds and help families in our area. Now we are ready to grow it in other cities, and Greenville is our first stop,” Simpson said.

“We are working with Francine Wasden and the Chamber of Commerce to get interested people together and give them start-up money for a Greenville chapter of Meredith’s Miracles. Then they will be responsible for their fundraising.” Once they get a chapter established in Greenville, the organization hopes to start chapters in Brewton, Troy and other south Alabama cities and towns.

Simpson says being able to help financially strapped families with sick or injured children has been a blessing to their family and the volunteers of Meredith’s Miracles.

“When someone walks into our office and says, ‘I can’t afford to take my child to the doctor,’ and we can turn around and give them a check, that means so much. They will ask how to pay it back, and we can tell them you don’t have to worry about that. It’s our way of keeping Meredith alive.”

For more information about Meredith’s Miracles, visit their website at www.meredithsmiracles.org.