Owner Ben Cagle has teamed up with the Brain Tumor Foundation for Children for a more creative cornfield shape that features the foundation’s logo.
The farm is also donating a portion of ticket proceeds to the foundation from opening weekend, which will be from Friday to Sept. 3.
The partnership initially came about when Mary Moore, executive director of the Brain Tumor Foundation for Children, contacted Cagle in February for help with creating a special day for a young girl with brain cancer.
The Brain Tumor Foundation for Children provides support and information for families of children with brain tumors.
“We’re not a wish-making organization, but every once in a while we get a situation here we might get a chance to make something special happen,” Moore said.
That something special for 9-year-old Anna Hardt was a calf.
“We knew she loved cows, which is interesting,” Moore said, adding the girl had a favorite cow toy and even cow-print fingernails.
To make Anna’s day a little brighter, Cagle drove a calf and other barnyard friends 70 miles to her Lawrenceville home so Anna could enjoy her own petting zoo on her front lawn.
Cagle said he was eager to help the foundation again and came up with the idea to incorporate its logo into this year’s corn maze.
Moore said all of the families she works with through the foundation are excited to visit the farm.
“They gave us 500 tickets for any families we know to walk through maze and have a nice time over Labor Day weekend,” Moore said. “(Cagle’s) seemed very excited about including a nonprofit this year. We’re just thrilled.”
However, not long after plans were in the works for the benefit, Cagle and his co-workers found out that a 19-year-old former employee was also diagnosed with a brain tumor.
Joshua Pitner worked as a “corn cop,” or a lookout who makes sure corn maze patrons are safe, for two years at the farm.
“Josh did about everything around here,” Cagle said. “He was a jam-up employee.”
Cagle said his former employee is known around the farm for his big heart, so he and his family wanted to do something to honor him.
“He’s an inspiration really,” Cagle said. “It’s just a little thing we can do for him.”
Pitner, who turns 20 on Tuesday, said working at Cagle’s made him feel like part of a family.
“They’re great, great people to work for and great people to be around,” Pitner said. “It doesn’t really seem like a work atmosphere when you’re there. They treat employees like you’re part of the Cagle family.”
The Cherokee High School graduate didn’t let on that his tumor is troubling him.
“I’m not going to complain,” he said.
Pitner said being recognized as the inspiration for the maze makes him feel honored.
“It means a lot to me that they would want to do something like that for me,” Pitner said.
The maze will be open until Nov. 11 and admission costs $10. It will be open 5 to 11 p.m. Fridays, 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturdays, and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sundays.
Cagle said the corn stalks are eight to nine feet tall, but attendees can feel safe with Corn Cops like Pitner who will help them if they get lost.
“We’re expecting a pretty good crowd this year,” Cagle said, adding the farm also now has a gem mining station and a pumpkin house for kids to enjoy.
Throughout the opening weekend, Moore will also be there and have a table set up to provide more information about the foundation.
“(Brain cancer is) a devastating disease,” Moore said. “So many children do not survive, and many who do have many deficits and lifelong challenges. We like to feel that we’re offering some great support for these families when they’re going through this very difficult time.”
The farm will also host “ag-venture” farm tours for $7 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays and bonfire hayrides also for $7 from 6 to 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.
The more than 3-mile maze can take anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour to complete, but families can also stay and enjoy the farm’s jumpee pillow, bonfire, hayrides, farm animals and concessions.
For more information about Cagle’s Family Farm or the Brain Tumor Foundation for Children, visit their sites at www.caglesfamilyfarm.com and www.braintumorforkids.org.