A bear that's making a difference.

I wanted to share about a meaningful thing we did at my book launch party, and hope to maybe inspire you to give as well.

I didn’t want my book launch party to be just about me. I want to help people with my book and I also felt it was important to help people through my party. I work with a non-profit organization called Help-a-Heart. Their mission is sharing Love by providing financial assistance and emotional support to Iowa families affected by congenital heart disease. (Read more about them here in my previous blog about them.) At the beginning of this year, they set a goal to give away 100 Bummer Bears to kids who were having open heart surgeries this year. Bummer Bears are teddy bears that have zippers down the middle and a patched-up heart on the inside. They set up a sponsorship program that for $40 a bear will be given to a heart kid in your name.

I was moved by this goal because I was given a teddy bear by my Aunt and Uncle when I was two years old. This bear has been my comfort and mascot for all four of my open heart surgeries. I wanted other heart kids to have a bear to hold, love, and cry into when they needed comfort. Also sleeping with the teddy bear can provide comfort for heart patients right after surgery. I found that being a side sleeper can be very uncomfortable after open heart surgery. You see, the arm that is on top when you are lying on your side can feel like its crushing down on your chest and cause a lot of pain after surgery. A teddy bear, or even a pillow, can prop that arm up enough that it no longer hurts as you try to sleep.

I asked one of the co-founders of Help-a-Heart, Emily Graber if she would be able to come set up a table at my book launch party. I wanted people to learn more about Hel-a-Heart and about the Bummer Bear sponsorship. My goal for the day was to get 10 bears sponsored through my party.

Emily and two other ladies who have been helped by Help-a-Heart (L to R - Emily Sweeney, Emily Graber, me, Krystal Jay) came to help spread the word about Help-a-Heart. Emily spoke after my speech and then was able to help inform many people about their non-profit organization. I was so grateful to have them there.

At the end of the day, 12 bears were sponsored. 12!!! My heart was (and still is) so excited and blessed by the caring people who gave to these heart kiddos.

Help-a-Heart has sponsored 80-ish Bummer Bears so far this year (including the ones from my party.) Today is known as Giving Tuesday and I want to encourage you to go to their donation page (upper right hand corner) and make a donation today to go towards helping a heart hero and their family. Please remember when giving: $40 will provide a Bummer Bear for a child having surgery. $100 will provide meals to a hospitalized family for a week. Give big... give local... see the difference.

(Pictured above is my nephew. He and his sisters (along with their parents help ;) ) each sponsored a bear. They got to write an encouragement note to go with the bear for the heart kid getting the bear. So very sweet!)

#MissionMondays #GivingTuesday #BummerBears

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