Sunday mornings are a great time to catch up around the web and this past Sunday was no exception. By good fortune, I found The Big Sunflower Project.
Toni Abram and her father were both diagnosed in 1998 with centronuclear myopathy, a disease which is part of a rare group of inherited disorders characterised by muscle weakness (myopathy) and wasting (atrophy) in the skeletal muscles, the muscles used for movement. The severity of centronuclear myopathy varies among affected individuals, even among members of the same family, and Toni was told the disease was progressive and that she and her father could eventually become wheelchair dependant.
Toni wanted to raise awareness for the disorder with a project that would be accessible to anyone, including those who may have restricted mobility, so in 2001, The Big Sunflower Project was started. I can’t think of a more beautiful way to do so either!
Sunflowers or Helanthus, are native to North America. The common sunflower, with its thick stalk and large, bright seed filled flower, can grow to six feet. I think there are 73 known varieties of sunflower, among them the Teddy Bear sunflower, a dwarf species of sunflower, which I think is really cute. I love sunflowers and nothing says “countryside” to me like these graceful giants with their bright faces. A great source of food for many birds too if you don’t fancy harvesting the seeds yourself.
The Big Sunflower Project wants to get as many people as possible growing sunflowers to learn about and raise awareness of centronuclear and myotubular myopathy. Seeds are free, all you need to do is apply to the project and be sure to share your plant’s growth with stories and photos. Go to Join in to apply. I have, and hopefully as the Summer approaches, I will have some gorgeous photos to show you and a few more folks will also learn about this amazing awareness project.
For further information and resources about centronuclear and myotubular myopathy, please visit The Big Sunflower Project website.