OSWEGO, NY – Perhaps Maggie Sue Glenister Wilcox wasn’t at The American Foundry on Saturday afternoon (or was she?). The young child’s presence was felt by the hundreds who turned out to “fight the beast.”
In 2011, she died just two days before her long-anticipated fifth birthday – “as a result of contracting the virus known as Eastern Equine Encephalitis, a rare but deadly encephalitis that is transmitted to humans solely through the bite of an infected mosquito. A tiny… deadly… mosquito,” said Donna Wilcox, Maggie Sue’s aunt.
Maggie Sue’s family now refers to EEE as “The Beast.”
On Saturday, the Maggie Sue Glenister Wilcox Foundation staged the first-ever “Be Aware ‘Cause It’s Rare… Fight EEE” fundraising event at the Foundry.
There were balloons everywhere; many with ladybugs, all with white dots, in honor of Maggie Sue.
An army of volunteers and family members put on the event which featured raffles and silent auctions mixed in with a bit of education.
Musical entertainment was provided by ThunderChild and Todd Hobin.
“We have hundreds of donated items, just hundreds of them!” Donna said. “We are so grateful for all the help we’ve received from the community. They’ve given us so much stuff. It’s unbelievable. We’re going to have some fun today and hopefully educate people about EEE as well. Maggie would be right in her glory here.”
She described Maggie as “a dancing little star … loved to sing and just loved everything!”
Everyone pitched in to create a bake sale with enough goodies “to feed an army,” she added.
The family wants to make sure the public is educated about EEE, so that no other family has to go through what they have. The ultimate goal is to one day have a vaccine available to the general public.
“We need to know we’re doing everything possible so another ‘Maggie’ doesn’t happen. At this point, that’s our family’s goal; to make sure that the public is aware because so many of them are not aware of what is happening, and what has happened and what they can do to prevent it and keep their families safe,” Donna said.
The event raised more than $10,000 to aid the Maggie Sue Glenister Wilcox Foundation in its fight.
“Our Maggie’s life, although far too short, was filled with childish giggles and squeals of delight; music, dancing and silliness at every turn. That’s what today’s fundraiser is all about. It’s a fun-filled family and community gathering to work to achieve a common goal; eradication of the threat of EEE from the lives of those we love!” Donna said.
“Maggie’s life was cut far too short,” said Jiancheng Huang, Oswego County Director of Public Health. “I am very proud of the way her family is honoring her memory and helping others as well. It’s hard for them to step up, to do this, I know. But it’s nice of them to do this for the community. But we need to make more awareness of this very terrible disease. They are making a positive out of a tragedy.”
“I want to thank everybody for coming out and all those who donated,” Donna said. “This is something very close to our family’s heart; and by the looks of everybody here, it’s very close to your hearts as well. I just want to say that we are extremely humbled by the showing for our fundraiser today. We have such overwhelming support and are so very thankful for that.”
State Senator Patty Ritchie has vigorously joined the family and Oswego County Legislature to urge Central New York residents to “Fight the Bite” to prevent Eastern Equine Encephalitis.
In 2011, she hosted a roundtable on ways to prevent the disease and then last year she helped distribute free packets of a regionally produced larvicide that can be used to treat standing water, including small pools, bird baths and ornamental ponds, to reduce the mosquito population.
“The worst thing would be to have nothing positive to come out of our family’s tragedy,” said Maggie Sue’s aunt. “By continuing to spread the word about EEE, we can help ensure that people in Central New York know how to protect themselves. More importantly, we can raise awareness so no other family has to go through what we have gone through.”
The Maggie Sue Glenister Wilcox Foundation, is a 501c (3) not-for-profit corporation. It’s a solely volunteer based corporation that was organized by Maggie Sue’s family after her sudden and tragic death on August 14, 2011.
For more information or to make a donation, contact the foundation at: Post Office Box 236, New Haven, NY 13121 or 315-592-1033.
Facebook: beawarecauseitsrare Fight Triple E
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Eastern Equine Encephalitis is an inflammation of the brain, the symptoms of which are the sudden onset of a debilitating headache, high fever, chills and vomiting progressing into disorientation, seizures, coma and death.
This illness has no cure.
One in three children or adults who become infected will die and those who may survive typically suffer severe, irreversible and devastating brain damage.
Those most at risk for contracting this virus are children under the age of 15 and adults over the age of 50.
The eastern coastal states and the gulf coastal states are affected yearly by mosquitoes carrying this deadly virus.