It all started last year with a little boy named Michael and a wish to come to the fair. Michael Breuer was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, a cancer involving developing nerve cells, at age 4.
Before the 2014 N.C. State Fair, Michael’s grandmother, Pam Brown, called up the State Fair and asked if the fair had a special day or a place for kids that were sick to go during the fair. Fair officials worked to help make the accommodations needed to help Michael come to the fair. Unfortunately, his disease prevented him from visiting with his family. Michael passed away at age 7 shortly after the 2014 N.C. State Fair.
“It bothered me that we didn’t get to do anything for Michael,” said David Smith, chief deputy commissioner for the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, which runs the fair. “We decided to have Michael’s Day to allow other families that are fighting diseases to come form memories and, just for one day, forget about illnesses and hospitals and enjoy the fair.”
The fair partnered with Ronald McDonald House Charities to bring four busloads of families for an all-expenses-paid trip to the 2015 fair. Springleaf Financial was a generous sponsor for the day. Buses came from Winston-Salem, Greenville, Cary and Chapel Hill. Michael’s family, including his little brother, Matthew, enjoyed the day at the fair in his honor, too.
“You try to picture in your mind what’s it’s going to be like and it’s so much better,” said Jessica Breuer, Michael’s mom. “Michael would be in awe.” Families received a kickoff party that featured games, prizes, food and appearances by the fair mascot, Casey Cardinal, and Smokey Bear. Families were given food passes and ride tickets to enjoy on the grounds. Children and families also had access to a “Chill Out Zone” to relax and take a break during their fair day.
“When a child is sick, so much of the family’s time has to be dedicated to that sick child,” Smith said. “This day is about the family, and giving the whole family a magical day at the fair.”