Maci Fontenot rides down a slide at Maci’s Make-A-Wish and Make A Difference Festival fundraiser in 2011. (American Press Archives)
Last Modified: Friday, September 21, 2012 8:53 PM
What began as one girl’s idea to give to others as she had been helped has grown into a full family fun day called MaciFest.
Games, music and food will prevail in the Lake Charles Civic Center Coliseum from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.
MaciFest was the idea of 8-year-old Maci Fontenot of Lake Charles, who benefitted from the Make-a-Wish Foundation and thought of the festival as her own birthday party to raise funds for the organization. Make-a-Wish grants wishes to children with life-threatening illnesses. Successful surgery and chemotherapy have cleared Maci of her disease, but she wants others to have a chance for trips such as hers to meet the Jonas Brothers.
Since the first MaciFest last year, the festival organization has grown to include a board of directors and support from Mayor Randy Roach, the city of Lake Charles and 80 or more volunteers, Nikki Fontenot, Maci’s mother, said in a telephone interview with the American Press last week.
“There’s as much fun for adults as there is for children and teens,” she said.
The event will include a climbing wall, a mechanical bull, Robo Surf, Adrenaline Rush obstacle course for kids and teens, and a fun house and slide — all provided by a professional company. There will also be face painting, a talent hour and a silent auction, including art by Vicki Singletary.
Paul Groves, an international opera star who is originally from Lake Charles, will sing and have his band, Mirage, perform.
Other musicians will be Dave Evans of Luna’s and his band, Good Wood; Young Band Nation with Marcus Johnson; the St. Louis and Barbe high school show choirs and Angie Manning and Paul Gonsoulin singing selections from their new CD.
The Make-a-Wish Foundation of the Texas Gulf Coast will have representatives partnering with the local group with an eye to establishing a similar activity.
“At the first festival last year, Mayor Roach showed up and was so impressed with what we were doing, he said he wanted to help out,” Nikki Fontenot said.
Maci was diagnosed with optical glioma, a nonmalignant tumor on the optic nerve.
“It was the size of her eye socket,” her mother said, “and only 3 millimeters from her brain. She had chemotherapy to reduce its size and then a craniotomy so surgeons could remove it without brain damage. She lost the sight in one eye.”
Maci and Nikki will be autographing the book they wrote, “You Can’t Take My Vision.” Proceeds from the book’s sale will go to Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston. In addition to providing aid to other children, Maci’s message is for acceptance of children who are different, her mother said.
“Her father, Ryan, and I felt it important not to hand her a handicap, so we have tried to treat her as any other child as much as possible,” she said.
Members of the MaciFest board, in addition to Nikki and Maci, are Felicia Hall; Todd and Jennifer Bruney; Michelle Mudd; Margaret Wukovits; Lisa Henry; Lisa Leubner; and Lauri Ardoin.
Supporting organizations include the St. Louis varsity and junior cheerleaders and Karen Crawford and about 20 Sulphur High School students.
MaciFest will be 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 22, in the Lake Charles Civic Center Coliseum.
Admission is $10 per person, no more than $40 per family.
There will be games, music, food and drinks.