TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The Rough Riders are kicking off the “John Winter Teddy Bear Roundup” once again.
Winter was a meteorologist for WFLA News Channel 8 and a member of the Rough Riders who often spoke of taking Teddy Bears to children in hospitals during his morning weather forecast.
Viewers began donating Teddy Bears and it turned into an annual tradition.
The Rough Riders now collect thousands of Teddy Bears each year and take the toys to children in hospitals, senior citizens, cancer patients and patients and even wounded warriors at the VA hospital.
“We have a tremendous amount of committees that collect these bears and a lot of hours that go into it to get all of this taken care of. It’s an amazing thing that happens,” said Tony Bimonte, Teddy Bear Committee Chairperson for the Rough Riders.
Each year the group collects bears for “Kindness Day” (December 9) at WFLA News Channel 8 and picks up bears dropped off at Regions Bank locations and Tampa Bay area Allstate insurance offices.
The Rough Riders then distribute the bears all year round at numerous locations.
“We cover pretty much every hospital in the Tampa Bay area. We’ll go over to St. Pete, we’ll go down to Bradenton. Any hospital that invites us in, we’ll go give them a bear,” said Bimonte.