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Natural Awakenings Naples and Fort Myers

Crohn’s Charity Service Foundation Wellness Festival in the Park

Feb 29, 2020 07:55AM ● By Linda Sechrist

As the Crohn’s Charity Service Foundation’s Wellness Festival in the Park on April 11 at Riverside Park, in Bonita Springs, approaches, Yvette Stafford, the Naples nonprofit organization’s founder, reminisces about the organization’s start in 2011. “From 2008 to 2011, my son was sick with Crohn’s disease. Because I was able to help him minimize his suffering, he asked me to do all that I could to inform others of the help that’s available to them,” advises Stafford. The foundation assists individuals with Crohn’s, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and colitis, as well as their families, in regaining and sustaining a normal life by providing information, awareness and financial assistance to rebuild confidence and self-esteem.

“In 2011, that was an extraordinary goal because the majority of adults that I knew didn’t know what Crohn’s disease was. This forced me to create Teen Volunteers to help with educational handouts, flyers and booklets on Crohn’s disease. Over the years while assisting me with raising funds, these young volunteers have gained the support of the community by participating in parades, cookouts, carwashes and by working in the community helping people with household tasks such as painting and planting gardens and fellowshipping with everyone they interacted with. Some are now young adults in college, and others have simply embraced life with good morals. Many of these exceptional kids also earned high school credits for volunteering. Who could have known in 2011 that all of these wonderful benefits to the community would have come from helping the sick?” notes Stafford.

Recognizing a need to address the challenge of Florida’s medical marijuana laws that then excluded Crohn’s patients, in 2016, Stafford enrolled in horticultural classes with America’s first cannabis college, Oaksterdam University, in Oakland, California, to get an education in the industry. She continues to educate the community with events like the Wellness Festival in the Park, featuring speakers such as Director of Cannabis Florida Department of Agriculture Holly Bell, who will address the 2020 Outlook on Florida’s Hemp Industry, Shannon Livingston, agriculture hemp program coordinator at Florida Gulf Coast University, and Jeffrey Demon, Navy senior chief petty officer (retired) and founder of Grateful Veteran, a Florida-based nonprofit that educates veterans and civilians about the benefits of medical cannabis.  

Festival admission is $10 cash. Location: 10450 Reynolds St., Bonita Springs. For more information, call 239-200-7214. Visit 

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