ADELANTO – A local mother is taking what she learned during the very difficult years of caring for her now 12-year-old daughter who has Cystic Fibrosis to help others.
Through heartache, struggles, hospital stays, and even triumph, Mary Gabriel felt battered and almost like she lost herself in the battle to fight her precious daughter’s illness. “Shine was born from that dark time a few years ago when we nearly lost Allissa,” said Mary Gabriel. “I was lost in her care; every day things like showering seemed like mountains. I knew there had to be a reason we were going through it all.”
The family of four, which included Mary, her husband Buddy, her 13-year-old son Patrick and 12-year-old Allissa faced financial and emotional struggles while fighting to save Allissa’s life. “In the middle of it all, on a very bad day I told Buddy, my husband that I literally felt as low as dirt,” said Mary. “He told me that I wasn’t dirt, but coal. That I had kept out family warm, kept them safe. Then, under all the pressures of Allissa and Patrick’s needs that I had turned to a diamond but had forgotten how to shine.”
Mary decided to host events to raise funds to help families, like her own, who struggle with illness to help them meet their needs. She said she wanted to give them something beautiful, so they can remember that they too, are just dusty diamonds that forgot their shine. She decided to start a nonprofit to help with the special needs of these families. The funds collected would go to help with gas cards, food during hospital stays, help with copays and any other needs that may arise. “I wanted to give these families something good; something to hold onto when everything was bleak,” said Mary.
The thought of helping others was just a dream in the beginning, but Mary was determined to make her dream a reality. Mary spoke with her friend about their constant plans to have a Girl’s day to unwind and the two planned to attend the paint night. After years of caring from her daughter and the traumas that came with her first few years of life, Mary found herself suffering from severe medical PTSD. Doctors prescribed a list of medications including Valium and Xanax, which left Mary feeling like a “mombie”, which she describes as a zombie in the shell of a mom. “After trying cannabis I found that I could stop worrying about every germ, stop calculating life expectancies and simply just be their mom,” said Mary. “It was literally like waking up from a deep foggy trance. I got my life back and the kids got their mom.”
For around 10 years Mary has replaced her anxiety medications with medical Cannabis. When thinking about paint night, Mary thought that it would be a great experience to smoke while she painted. Since she is not a drinker, Paint and Sip was not something that would spark her interest. Mary decided to try to host her own fundraiser for Shine, and amazingly, each party has sold out. “Guests are given a pre-roll of Indica, Sativa or an edible by Magooch,” explained Mary. “They come for three hours and paint a 16X20 while instructed by an amazing local artist. There is lots of information given about cannabis and safety.”
Mary said that she encourages her guests to use Uber whenever possible, but the effects of a small dose of the pre-roll should last around an hour for most. All guests are offered the opportunity to donate $5 to Shine during the event, those who do receive a thank you gift which includes edibles and prerolled joints.
For the month of March Shine has sponsored a local family whose son, Josh, has Angelman Syndrome. The events will help to sponsor Josh’s Equine therapy. Mary said that she is looking for more nominations for the upcoming Shine Grant. During the events, the sponsored family is highlighted and the illness or disorder is explained to bring awareness. “I’d like to highlight a different family every month, discuss what their needs are and set an amount to help them with,” said Mary.
Mary keeps the cost of the paint parties affordable and 85%-90% of the profits go to Shine. Mary’s family and friends help to keep the costs down by pitching in, her husband who works 12 hour days helps build the easels and her kids help clean. Mary said that although everyone is painting the same picture, all of their personalities are expressed on the canvas and each is unique.
Right now, along with the medications Mary’s daughter, Allissa is taking, which have had miraculous results for her lung function she is also taking CBD honey for sinus and abdominal pain. “She was given access to the CBD honey by her doctors at CHLA, they were at a loss and agreed to see if it helped. It has changed her world,” said Mary. Mary said that her children have been raised knowing that marijuana is a medicine.
Upcoming CannaColor events are planned for April 2nd, April 22nd, and April 23rd. There are two 3-hour parties each of the event days. To find out more about CannaColor Paint Parties, “like” the Facebook Page or join the Facebook group. Those who would like to nominate a family, even your own, for a Shine grant can contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Shine is also looking to hire local 420-friendly artists with valid medical recommendation or 21 and over.
Mary hopes that the interest in the CannaColor Painting Parties will continue to grow. She would like to help more families who are struggling in what she calls a “medical purgatory”. “I know those dark moments all too well and I know that if I so easily forget to shine that so many others must too… everyone needs something good, a reason to smile and sometimes help to shine.”
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