We are happy to keep bringing you Hugs Across America news, highlight activities of our volunteers and create a fun place for our visitors, supporters and friends of our mission.
From January 1, 2011 through February 28, 2011 in Brooklyn, the chapter:
FENNVILLE, Mich. -- One moment: a perfect shot to end a perfect season. The star player, just 16, lifted off the floor in celebration. Teenagers triumphant, crowds cheering, the district playoffs ahead, the future open wide.
The next: Wes Leonard on the gym floor, his heart failing, his life fading just a few moments after his victory layup. Packed bleachers suddenly stunned by an event that made basketball seem a distant, unimportant memory.
A day after Leonard died from an enlarged heart, this small town near Lake Michigan remembered an "all-American kid" whose athletic heroics had been local legend since middle school, when opposing coaches sometimes asked to see his birth certificate, not believing someone so young could be so skilled.
"He was a good kid, a good friend to have and a good person to hang around with," DeMarcus McGee, who played football and basketball with Leonard, said between sobs. "You never thought it could be him. He was so healthy. It shouldn't happen."
The guidance counselor from Wes’s Fennville High School, spoke of needing to comfort the many elementary school students who witnessed the game and sudden death. Friends and family will grieve for Wes and try to make sense of this tragedy. 50 teddies will be there to help.
Hugs recently received a letter of thank you for the 300 + teddy bears sent to Ronald McDonald House on behalf of grateful residents. For twenty - five years this home away from home has served over 14,000 seriously ill patients and their parents. It is with heartfelt thanks that Ronald McDonald House accepts our teddies that bring warm hugs and hopeful smiles to patients and families alike. They are deeply touched by our concern.
Julia Terk, a senior at St. Catherine University and an employee at the University of Minnesota Medical Center Fairview in the Emergency Department has seen Hugs at work. She states, "I know that your foundation has donated teddy bears to the ER and to the pediatric units of many hospitals and I was wondering if you would be able to help me out. I am going to Guayaquil, Ecuador this January with the International Children's Heart Foundation that brings life saving surgery to children with Congenital Heart Defects. During that time, the children and their families go through the most stressful time before the child’s major heart surgery as well as during the surgery and during recovery. I have gone on a previous trip as a student intern with ICHF in August of 2010 and I have noticed how small toys bring happiness to the children during recovery. I was hoping that your foundation could help me out by donating 20-25 teddy bears that I could take with me in January. I know that the children will greatly appreciate them and the smiles on their faces will be cherished forever." And, yes, Hugs did send the bears to Julia for her mission trip and she was delighted to tell us that the kids absolutely LOVED them.