Hockey Teams Deliver Bear Necessities

Cuddly toys comfort young patients at Christmas

Story by Kerri Robins

The fur will fly Dec. 12 in Medicine Hat as fans of the city’s Western Hockey League (WHL) Tigers will shower the ice with teddy bears and toques following the first Tigers goal.

The game against the Kelowna Blazers will be the last of five Teddy Bear Toss games that are held every December in Alberta’s WHL cities.

Already, more than 40,000 teddy bears and toques have been collected in Calgary, Edmonton, Lethbridge and Red Deer, where players delivered the gifts to local charities and Alberta Health Services facilities.

ns-teddy-bear-tossEarlier this week, Calgary Hitmen and Lethbridge Hurricanes players delivered the teddy bears to pediatric patients at the Alberta Children’s Hospital and Chinook Regional Hospital, respectively.

“Whenever I get sad, I can look at my teddy bear,” said six-year-old Lethbridge resident Liam McIntosh, a patient at Alberta Children’s Hospital. “I don’t know what I’ll name him but I’m going to show him to my dog Pluto.”

The annual event means a lot to the players, too.

“It’s great seeing the kids smile when you hand them a teddy bear,” says Calgary Hitman goaltender Evan Johnson. “You can tell they appreciate it and it’s a good feeling giving these kids an early Christmas present. It just puts a little extra happiness in the day for all of us.”

The 11,500 bears thrown to the ice in Edmonton have been donated to Santas Anonymous, which collects gifts to ensure every child has a gift to open on Christmas morning.

The toques thrown to the ice in Red Deer have been donated to the Red Deer Christmas Bureau Society, which helps children and families in need during the holiday season.

(Alberta Health Services)