by AmandaTo the plant experts at American Meadows: I thought you might enjoy knowing how far and wide your "Sparky Marigold" seeds have spread. Six years ago I started a holiday called "Spark Day" that was inspired by a little dog named Sparky who had come from a shelter in West Virginia and who had lived a rotten life of disregard. When he came home to me, he had the good life: A home, warm bed, friends, food, comfort, vet care. He was happy. But he never made it to his one year anniversary in a home, something I had been hoping for him to have. He was a very old dog and had lived a very hard life. But he was also very appreciative. Honoring that, I decided the anniversary of his adoption should be something we celebrated rather than mourned so I decided, along with his many fans -- he had come to me with a following -- that we should celebrate "Spark Day" a day to celebrate "The Spark of Life" that abounds all around us. After all, that's how Sparky got his name: he had collapsed and the shelter director didn't think he would survive, but when he perked up the next day at the shelter, she decided to call him Sparky. We celebrate this day by doing life-affirming things. It is not a day ABOUT Sparky, but INSPIRED by him. It is not about dogs or animal rescue per se, though those pursuits are life-affirming. There are many life-affirming things that people do and so people mark it their own ways. Then at a pre-arranged time in the evening, everyone pauses and raises a glass in a toast and we metaphorically "clink" over the distance at the "Spark Moment". We have been doing this six years now. Spark Day is May 16th. As the founder of Spark Day, I searched for something special to help unify all of us in this holiday and mark the occasion with beauty in some life-affirming way. As I was shopping for spring plants that first year at your site, I came upon "Sparky Marigold" seeds. I could not believe it! I bought a bunch and then bought little envelopes and made them up with special labels for Spark Day and sent them out to the people celebrating. Everyone enjoyed them and month’s later people would send me the pictures of their Sparky Flowers! I mixed Sparky Marigolds with some wildflower blends you had that included perennials as well as annuals, thus the mix included seeds that burned brightly but briefly like Sparky and some that would return, like Sparky's message of behaving in a life-affirming way. Spark Day has grown over these years and this year people in 17 states celebrated on May 16th, each person receiving a seed packet of Sparky Marigolds mixed with a variety of seeds from your different pollinator blends to support those creatures who help support the life that's out there. Each year I made up a Spark Day card and send it out to those on my list, but more people receive Sparky Seeds than just those to whom I send them, as the shelter, Wetzel County Animal Shelter in New Martinsville, WV , also sends them out as thank you gifts to those who participate in their annual Spark Day Fundraiser to help old dogs like Sparky. I make out a supply of packets for them to use and they share them. I also have sent a supply of seeds to a pre-kindergarten teacher I know who did a whole Spark Day unit with the four year olds in her class. Those little kids took great care to grow personal Sparky Pots for their mothers to receive on Mother's Day as well as tending to a Sparky Garden they planted at their school and they took extra seeds home to plant, some families deciding to plant them in community gardens to share with still more people. This year I made up 573 Sparky Seed packets. I mailed out 243 packets to all those different states and then took 330 into work with me on Spark Day Eve. I am a high school teacher and over the years have used this holiday to teach beyond the standard literary curriculum to encourage community involvement and to help them see avenues to apply the lessons literature teaches. Over these past six years, both students and staff have come to anticipate Spark Day, sometimes asking me well in advance for the seeds. They have brought comfort to many going through tough times (e.g. cancer, loss of a loved one, personal stress, etc.) and have brightened the days of so many for months to come. People I do not even know by name stop me in the halls to show me pictures of their Sparky Flowers on their cell phones. It's wonderful! I went into work on Spark Day Eve with 330 seed packets; before the next week was over, I had no more left. I gave them to people at work, at the pet stores where I shop, at the banks I use, at the restaurant where I celebrated Spark Day with many friends. All of these people are planting these seeds and in the coming months I'll put a call out for them to send in pictures to post on the shelter's Facebook page for all to see. So I hope you will never stop selling your Sparky Marigold blend and I hope you enjoy seeing the pictures from many people who have sent them to me in celebration of the Spark of Life and Spark Day. Enjoy -- and thank you! Sincerely, Michele K.