CANAAN — Fields at the Ring Farm on Hill Road have been rolled hard and tight in anticipation of crowds for Saturday’s Make-A-Wish Foundation fundraiser. Pies have been baked, pumpkins and squash have been picked, raffle tickets have been printed and bleachers have been set out so visitors can sit and listen to live music while they chow down on River Front barbecue.

It’s what Dan and Allison Ring have done in October for the past five years — host a family farm event in which all of the proceeds go to the Maine chapter of the Make-A-Wish Foundation. This year’s event — that family’s sixth — starts at 9 a.m. and runs until 4 p.m. at the farm at 1833 Hill Road.

“Make-A-Wish has always been my favorite charity,” Dan Ring said from picnic tables set up by the fields this week. “I just thought, we got this land, we could open it up, we could gather a lot of people here and do it for a charity and make the farm alive again.”

He said he expects as many as 700 people to show up Saturday.

Last year the Rings raised $12,757 from donations and sales at events — enough for two “wishes.” Make-A-Wish in the United States grants a wish, on average, every 38 minutes to a child with a life-threatening medical condition. It takes about $6,000 to pay for one wish.

Ring said he first got the idea to hold a Make-A-Wish fundraiser in 2009 when Ricky Gibson III, a high school student who had an inoperable brain tumor, had his wish granted to bring lights to the football field at Maranacook Community High School. Thanks in part to a $6,000 donation from the Make-A-Wish Foundation, the Ricky Gibson Field of Dreams got its lights.

“The reason I did it was because of that boy,” he said. “That was his wish. He wanted lights around the football field, and he got it.”

The following year, the Rings opened their farm to the public for a day in October to hold a special family event to raise money, said Make-A-Wish Maine development manager Rebecca Leaming.

“The Ring Family Farm provides critical funds and awareness in the Canaan area,” Leaming said. “They work tirelessly throughout the year to raise money for children with life-threatening medical conditions to receive their greatest wish. We are so grateful to have them as one of our biggest champions and supporters.”

The Maine chapter of Make-A-Wish opened in 1992. Founded by Wayne and Caroline Morong in Camden, Make-A-Wish Maine has grown to serve children in each of Maine’s 16 counties. The Maine chapter has more than 200 volunteers statewide and a staff of seven. The main office is in the Time and Temperature Building at 477 Congress St. in Portland.

Leaming said the Ring family and all of their supporters are “a very dedicated, hardworking and friendly group of volunteers. They raise money through various fundraisers each year, including sleigh rides, collecting bottles, bake sales and pumpkin sales.”

In 2010, the Ring Farm event raised $2,800; in 2011, $4,734; in 2012, $7,406; and in 2013, $12,000. In 2014, sleigh rides at the farm and the October event raised a total of $12,757.

The Rings, who both work for the Wright Farm in Clinton, said money raised the first two years was not enough for a wish, so the money was donated to the foundation’s general wish fund.

But in 2012, when the event raised more than the $6,000 needed for a wish, Abbie Clark, now 14, of China, who attends Messalonskee Middle School in Oakland, became the Rings’ first wish recipient.

Abbie has Williams syndrome, a genetic condition that is characterized by medical problems, including cardiovascular disease, developmental delays and learning disabilities. She has had two open-heart surgeries.

Abbie’s wish was to go to Disney World, and she got it.

“I think it’s awesome,” she said. “I liked it. I feel good about it.”

Abbie’s mother, Stacy Clark, said the Rings and Make-A-Wish really made her daughter’s wish come true.

“I think it’s wonderful,” she said. “I get choked up when I talk about it. Until you experience it, you can’t really describe it.”

She said all five members of her family went on the trip.

“We didn’t pay one penny,” she said. “They even gave us a credit card for spending money. They picked us up in the driveway in a limo.”

Jane Ring, Dan Ring’s sister-in-law, said there are four hay wagons loaded with pumpkins ready to be sold, carved and given away on Saturday. She said the Maine Warden Service will have its traveling Operation Game Thief unit on hand for demonstrations and information Saturday. Christian rockers Salvation Soul will provide the live music, she said.

Dan Ring, whose parents bought the farm in 1962, said other events on Saturday are set to include a bake sale with about 80 pies baked by his mother, Betty Cote. There will be a big yard sale, for which donations are still being accepted.

“Everything goes to Make-A-Wish. Nobody profits here,” he said. “Every family that comes gets a free pumpkin and a bundle of corn stalks, and all the kids get a pumpkin to carve right here.”

There will be a bounce house for the kids, pumpkin carving, six wish baskets from Sebasticook Family Practice to be raffled off, a Cabot cheese basket for raffle, face painting by the local Girl Scout troop and 30 homemade afghans made by his mother and sister Jackie Woodworth.

There also will be a visit by seven draft horse teams and a miniature horse pulling a wagon. Raffle items Saturday will include a cord of wood, cut and split; a $100 gift card for Joseph’s Fireside Restaurant in Waterville; 20 pounds of lobster; a 12-to-15-pound prime rib Angus roast; and four yards of compost.

The barbecue dinner will include pulled pork and chicken, beans, coleslaw, corn bread, hamburgers and hot dogs, and apple crisp and ice cream for dessert, all for a $20 donation to Make-A-Wish.

“It’s the Ring family and all their relatives — a lot of special people and a lot of businesses,” Dan Ring said of the nearly 60 people and businesses that have sponsored or contributed to Saturday’s effort. “It’s a community thing. That’s what I wanted to see. I want it to be the largest community for Make-A-Wish in central Maine.”

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]


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