Last year, nearly 300 people gathered at the Ganser-Smith Memorial Park in Menands to watch intently as a cow made its way across the grass. With bated breath, they waited for the inevitable gastrointestinal event cows are well known for.
The “cow plop” acted as the main highlight to the first ever Fantastic Fall Festival, which also featured food, craft vendors, music and games, to help raise money for Derek Murphy, a 12-year-old boy from North Greenbush with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. By the end of the event, the festival raised $10,000. Now, the organizers are making the fundraiser an annual event with a second festival on Saturday, Sept. 28, from noon to 6 p.m.
The “plop” is akin to a form of Bingo. The grass is divided into about small white squares, which can be claimed for $10. The person with the square the cow “chooses” wins a $300 prize.
The Fall Festival came to fruition when friends and family of the Murphys wanted to hold a fundraiser to help with the family’s medical bills as well as increase awareness of DMD. At 2 years old, Derek was diagnosed with DMD, a progressive neuromuscular disease affects his muscles that currently has no cure. At age 9, Derek needed a specialized wheelchair and a service dog, Matrix, to maximize his independence.
Yet Derek’s mom, Sue Ellen Murphy, said some insurance companies don’t recognize some of the special needs necessary for Derek or others with DMD. Derek’s customized wheelchair has standing features in order to help with his respiratory, digestive and bone health. But while going through insurance, Murphy said “every nook and cranny” needs to be justified for specifics in order to get a financial break.
“These (fundraisers) help with some financial burdens to help with Derek’s quality of life,” Murphy said. “Quality of life is a huge thing for my husband, myself and my boys.”
While all of this fundraiser’s proceeds will go directly to Derek, the family and friends have put on fundraisers in the past to benefit the Muscular Dystrophy Association for research.
“We’re extremely grateful to have family and friends in our life who participate in our journey,” Murphy said.
While there’s no entry fee to the event, the festival’s organizers hope people will purchase food, crafts and tickets for the cow plop. For this year’s festival, the cow plop will return as the main event.
“Everybody loved it,” festival organizer Lynda Long said. “Some people thought it was crazy. Some people had never heard of something like that.”
Family and friends can also enjoy vendors, painting, crafts, a raffle and kids games. There will be live music by two children’s bands, No. 2 and Time Machine, each featuring Derek’s peers and family members.
Food vendors will offer deep fried Oreos, cotton candy, popcorn, hamburgers and hot dogs.
“It’s big, local community event (and) people come from different areas,” Long said. “It’s just a very fun, uplifting time for everybody.”
Vendors interested in appearing should contact Long at 466-1625 or [email protected]