DeVries Strawberry Social to raise funds for youth with Lyme Disease

SECOND FAMILY Dan DeVries, center left, with the Mexican agricultural workers he calls his "second family." DeVries says the men come from all over Mexico—from mountain villages, along the coasts, from central highlands to the Yucatan. Most have been coming up for seven to ten seasons, arriving in mid-April, returning home in late October. The farm provides room and board, and pays for airfare. When asked a few minutes after this photo was taken, DeVries named each man. Pictured are Leandro, Mateo, Carlos, Antonio, Jesus, Mosiset, Roquey, Jimi, Alvero, Miguel, and Felipe. DAVE BURKET PHOTO

Annual Fenwick fundraiser coming this Saturday


For some 30 years, the DeVries family has been operating their fruit farm in Fenwick. Seven years ago, they launched their first Strawberry Social in partnership with Pelham Cares to bring the community out to their farm and to raise awareness for Pelham Cares. This Saturday, June 17, DeVries Fruit Farm will once again be hosting its annual Strawberry Social. Farm owner Dan DeVries said this is the second year that they will be using the popular event as an opportunity to raise funds for a specific community member in need.

Last year, DeVries donated the proceeds from their Strawberry Social to the Seehagel family to help with their 3-year-old son Jed’s recovery after he suffered a tragic lawn mower accident. By the time the day was over they had exceeded their expectations, raising $5,000 for the family. DeVries said the overwhelming support showed them how generous the people in Pelham can be.

“The way they gave was from the bottom of their hearts,” DeVries said.

“People didn’t come just because they were expecting strawberries and ice cream, they came because they knew there was a need and they wanted to give. We started to get a lot of people coming out in the morning and then they just kept coming and coming and we were like, ‘Wow’. It makes you feel really good to know that we could help.”

After coming across an article in the Voice about 15-year-old James Eliopoulos and his four-year struggle with Lyme disease, DeVries said he decided to donate the money raised this year to Eliopoulos and his family. Learning of the Sponaugle Wellness Institute in the United States — a centre that specializes in diagnosing and treating Lyme disease — the Eliopouloses chose to take their son to the clinic in Florida. Unfortunately, the treatments are not covered by OHIP. Considering the treatments cost about $5,000 per week and usually last 12 weeks at a time, the family has found itself struggling to keep up with the costs.

“We read there was a need for support and right then and there we decided that he would be our recipient for this year,” said DeVries. “We are hoping to see the same kind of great turnout as last year.”

Students With Information About Ticks (SWAT) from John Calvin Christian school in Smithville will be taking part in this year’s Strawberry Social as well, handing out information about ticks and how to prevent them from spreading Lyme. Pelham Cares will also be on site to accept food donations for families in Pelham in need of assistance. DeVries said there will also be wagon rides, ice cream and of course lots of freshly picked strawberries. He said families will also have a chance to pick their own strawberries if they are interested in taking home some of the seasonal deliciousness.

“Strawberry season is an awesome time of the year,” he said.

“Temperatures are usually warming up and they’re the first delicious fruit of the season.”

The Strawberry Social will take place on Saturday, June 17 at DeVries Fruit Farm at 825 Canboro Road in Fenwick, and will run from 10AM until 2PM. Or more information about DeVries Fruit Farm and the Strawberry Social visit: www.devriesfruitfarm.com.

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The Voice of Pelham
Pelham's independent news source from the heart of Niagara.