Monday, June 28, 2010

BABW Connect ~ Day 1 (part 2)

After the extremely riveting and enganging talk by Adrienne Weiss, we next got a chance to hear about how Build-a-Bear gives back.  There are so many facets to their charity work, and even at one point it really hit home to me.

We heard from a 12-year old boy named Zach Bonner.  Zach is an everyday kid who one day, at the age of 6 decided he wanted to help. And in his own words, "It's simple."  He was riding in the car one day after a pretty nasty storm 9hurricane maybe?) was set to hit his area.  Due to the storm threat, his mom had bought some extra water to keep in the house in case it was needed. The storm didn't hit their area as bad as it hit some of the surrounding area, and the radio station was talking about how these people were in need of water. Zach said "It's simple. They need water, and we have water. Mom, can we give them our water?" And look at this boy, a boy not too much older than Jonah, and his heart and his mind told him, "It's simple." and it just made sense. Zach has since continued to work on a number of project that himself and his Board of Directors (who are all under the age of 1 I might add!) have come up with. Projects like The Little Red Wagon Foundation, 24, and this summer he is walking across the country to raise awareness for homeless youth. He is an amazing and inspiring individual, and has done far more than so many adults just like me.  You can follow Zach on his journey on his ZachTracker.

Every year, Build-a-Bear picks what they call "Huggable Heros" (Zach was a Huggable Hero in 2007), individual kids who are doing something amazing to give back and pay-it-forward, just like Zach.

The inspiration for the Huggable Heros Program was a young girl named Nikki Giampolo. She battled and lost her life to cancer in 2002, yet her legacy can live on with the continued work she did for childhood cancer and the work Build-a-Bear continues to do each day.

The 2010 list of Huggable Hero's has just recently been released and there are kids like Allison M. from Fort Wayne, Indiana who has gathered over 44,000 items to soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq. And also Jourdan U, of New York, who is the founder of Children Helping Children (CHC), an organization that raises funds for cutting-edge research and the eradication of neurological diseases through a national benefit called, Concerts for a Cure. Check out the Huggable Hero's Build-a-Bear page for more info on ALL of 2010's Hero's as well as more info on the project itself.

The reason the Huggable Hero's Program hit home for me was the story behind why the bear, Champ was created. $1 from the purchase of Champ goes to the Build-a-Bear Workshop Bear Hugs Foundation, an organization that makes grants to support a wide variety of children's health issues.  Champ also represents courage, and is often a fuzzy supporter to many kids going through tough medical procedures, tests, and surgeries.  

While at the Build-a-Bear event, hearing those stories, watching that video, and talking about all the amazing things kids are doing, I couldn't help but get a little emotional. When Lily turns 2, she needs to go through more testing regarding her own medical issue she is fighting. I know it isn't as serious or life-threatening as cancer, heart disease, or anything else that many children are fighting everyday, but that doesn't make it any less scary for her, me, and our entire family. I made a vow that on the day of  her testing, we would make a stop at Build-a-Bear, and Champ too, will be accompanying her on that day we will be spending at Riley Children's Hospital.

(Day 1 ~ part 3 of the BABW Connect coming soon.....)

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