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.
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.
Helping children deal with loss is a significant part of Hugs mission and we are delighted to join the Moyer Foundation as it sponsors camp programs around the country for children who have lost someone significant in their lives. Hugs Across America sent over 150 teddies to camp Annie's Hope this summer to do just that.
Annie's Hope is a community based nonprofit organization whose mission is to provide comprehensive support services for children, teens and their families who are grieving the death of someone significant.
At the St. Louis Bereavement Center for Young People it is our goal to be the "go to" bereavement center focused solely on providing the most comprehensive services to meet the needs of grieving children, adolescents and their families in the greater St. Louis region.
St. James, Mo (KSDK) -- Friends and family gathered at a St. James church to remember a teenage student who was killed in a school bus crash on I-44 in Franklin County.
The funeral for Jessica Brinker which began at 11:00 a.m at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church ended with a horse drawn carriage that led the procession to the cemetery for her burial.
Brinker was the passenger in the back of the first school bus that crashed on eastbound I-44 Thursday morning on the way to Six Flags. Investigators said a semi slowed down as it approached a construction zone. A pick-up truck then hit the back of the semi. Then, two school buses carrying band students from St. James hit the crash.
Daniel Schatz, 19, who drove the pick-up also died in the crash. The Sullivan native was remembered in his hometown today.
Mayor Dennis Wilson, of St. James, spoke of the small, close nit town that he serves. " Many of the band members are still in the hospital. This little town will take the loss of Jessica very hard, but the hugs of teddy bears... and knowing that others around the country care, will make a big difference as we heal."