ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) – First responders from throughout Pinellas County delivered more than 100 teddy bears to some of the youngest patients at All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg.
“We are actually going to be giving away firefighter bears today, and it’s extra special because the kids love getting bears already but to get one from a firefighter is icing on the cake, said Christina Wood, president of The Caden Project.
Christina and her husband Richard started The Caden Project for two very special reasons. “It kind of spawned out of a result of both of our sons going through bone marrow transplants at the age of 2 and 1.5 years old,” Richard said.
A family friend gave the Woods youngest son Caden a Build-A-Bear. The bear made Caden feel so good that the Woods wanted kids in hospitals all over Florida to experience that joy.
“But in addition to that, it’s really focusing also on our ability to relate to those parents and give them a sense of hope that, ‘Hey we have been there and understand,’” Richard said.
The Woods, who live in Jacksonville with their two sons, have exclusively been passing out Build-A-Bears to patients at children’s hospital for more than two years.
“Our short-term goal is to reach every children’s hospital in the State of Florida and we are about halfway through, and our long-erm goal is to hit every Children’s Hospital in the nation,” Christina said.
Parents were just as excited for the first responders to visit, as the children were to receive their firefighter Build-A-Bear gifts.
“I think it was an excellent surprise. It definitely softens the moment and softens the mood for the kids and provides some excitement for them, probably a distraction from what’s going on with their health,” Ernie Dubose said. Ernie’s 3-year-old son received a bear Monday.
For more information about The Caden Project and donating bears, go here.