MOUNTAIN BROOK, Ala. (WIAT) — If you walk into Smith’s Variety in Mountain Brook, you’re sure to notice the bows. They come in different colors–red, silver, blue. They all stand for someone in need of support in the community. They’re all made by Mary Anne Glazner, who owns Smith’s Variety.
Glazner started making the bows back in 2005, when Mountain Brook teen Natalee Holloway went missing in Aruba. She made them of yellow ribbon, and soon, mailboxes and doors around the city were covered in them.
“That just spread like wildfire,” Glazner said.
A few months later, she began to hear of more people suffering in the community, facing illness, fighting cancer. She said she decided to do something.
“If you’ve ever wrestled with God, I couldn’t sleep that night, and I thought, Mary Anne, you have blue ribbon. You can use this ribbon.”
She did use it. She used it to make hundreds of blue bows for another man suffering from cancer. Then she decided–she should use the bows to help the families directly. One day, a customer asked how much she wanted for one of the blue bows.
“I said, ‘what would you give if your child had cancer? What would you give?’ He said, ‘I’ll give you $25’. And this other lady said, ‘I’ll take one for $25, too.'”
Years later, she’s sold hundreds and hundreds of bows for dozens of people. Customers choose how much they would like to donate, and that money goes directly to the families of the individuals who inspired the bows.
“This is what God wants me to do,” Glazner said.
Since summer, she’s been making red bows for Sam Hodnett, better known as “Super Sam.” The four-year-old has been battling cancer since May. Red bows adorn the mailboxes and doors of the homes near his, and Glazner said hundreds of people have come into her store to ask for them.
For Sam’s mother, Amanda Hodnett, the bows have been a powerful reminder that people in the community are praying for Sam, and for her family.
“We’ve been driving down the road before, lowest of the low, a really hard day. We’re scared, we’re sad, and we’ll see those red bows, and to me, it’s just a message, telling me that I’m not alone,” she said.
This week, Super Sam got great news. An MRI showed no signs of cancer is in his body.
“It was just the best news we’ve heard in a long time. Our Christmas is complete,” said Amanda Hodnett.
It’s been a whirlwind few months for the Hodnett family. In addition to Super Sam’s clear cancer scans, Amanda Hodnett recently found out she’s expecting a boy in May. Sam is excited for his little brother, she says.
Meanwhile, red ribbons will continue to decorate homes throughout Mountain Brook. They stand for his red hair, his favorite color, and his love of superheroes, which helped inspire his special nickname, “Super Sam.”
As Sam continues his treatments to ensure the cancer has disappeared for good, Amanda Hodnett says the bows will continue to remind her that their family is not alone. That, says Mary Anne Glazner, has been her goal.
“This is so exciting, but all the red bows at Christmastime now, let him know that we are so excited that he is cancer-free,” she said.
Glazner says she doesn’t want the story about her bows to be about her, but the families who need support and love. You can find Glazner’s bows at Smith’s Variety store at 45 Church Street in Mountain Brook.