Untold stories behind the Festival Of Trees - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Untold stories behind the Festival Of Trees

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by Brittany Earl

ROTHSCHILD(WAOW)--Inside the Stoney Creek Inn there is a large room filled with holiday cheer. Christmas trees line the walls of the ballroom for the 14th Annual Festival of Trees and with each tree comes a story.

Mary Ann VanSlyke, Festival Of Trees Volunteer Coordinator says, "The third time his name came to the top of the list he said I think I should go, he was gone in 6 days."

VanSlyke's son, Greg, died of brain cancer back in 2005. He spent his last few days at Aspirus Comfort Care and Hospice Services. VanSlyke said the people who helped her were saints, and she wasn't the only one who thought so.

Wendy Furrer, Chairwoman of Festival Of Trees says, "The people were so loving and helpful to us at a time we didn't even know we needed the help. We really felt that service should be available to anyone."

Due to their gratitude for Aspirus Hospice Services Care both VanSlyke and Furrer found themselves involved in the Festival of Trees, an event that donates 100% of its proceeds to Aspirus Hospice. This year two new programs will be available because of the funds that will be raised at this year's event.

"Through the Festival Of Trees and the funds that go directly to hospice services, we are able to fund a community bed throughout the year. It's available to anyone who needs it not based on pay," said Furrer.

Another program that will be available is music therapy. It's a way to help loved ones who are nearing the end of their lives, do it as peaceful and dignified as possible through the help of music.

Lisa Rae Eisenman, Aspirus Comfort Care and Hospice Services Music Therapist says, "Sometimes it's easier to express yourself or find awareness though music then it is through talking, so that's the goal."

Eisenman says through music therapy she can help people write songs about their life legacy or help patients with dementia talk and be present when they can't find other ways.

Wendy Furrer says without Festival Of Trees many of these options wouldn't be available.

"All people deserve the right to face end of life issues with dignity and this event makes that possible," said Furrer.

Online Reporter: Brittany Earl

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