Skip to main content
San Joaquin Valley College Blog

Respiratory Therapy students give sick children a big bear hug

November 24, 2014
SJVC Respiratory Therapy students bring bears to Valley Childrens Hospital
RT students surprise kids at Valley Children’s Hospital with 250 teddy bears.

Five months ago, Respiratory Therapists of Tomorrow members on the Bakersfield campus wanted to do something to bring a little light into the lives of hospitalized children struggling for their health…and some for their very lives. The dozen or so RT Club members decided to raise money for Bear Hugs 4 Cubs in order to buy the needed components to assemble around 100 teddy bears for the young patients at Valley Children’s Hospital in Madera.

Excited to make this happen, students threw themselves into soliciting local businesses for donations to help them make their goal. They made fliers and went out into the community to ask for contributions.

They raised close to $3,000 – enough to buy kits for 250 bears!

“They did a great job,” says Brian Ruff, Director of Clinical Education for the Respiratory Therapy (RT) program. “This was a great opportunity for them to see how they could help somebody at a very trying time.”

RT students worked with their local Build-a-Bear to purchase kits providing various bear features and components. Some children were able to build their own bear, but many more were assembled by student volunteers on campus who pitched in for those many children who would be unable to make such an effort. Each kit included an unstuffed bear, stuffing, a heart and a birth certificate for each child to name his or her bear.

“It contained everything needed to make a snuggly new friend that will be there to help these brave little ones get through some difficult and scary experiences while in the hospital,” says Shawna Smith, RT student.

RT student more than met their goal. “We want to thank Mr. Romero (RT instructor) for his support and guidance,” says Ruby Delgado, RT student. “He saw us struggle and sometimes wanting to give up, but he was there to support us; and thanks to him, we made it happen.”

On Tuesday, Oct. 14th six RT students made the trip to Valley Children’s Hospital to deliver their bounty to each child at the hospital. “We went into many rooms (except NICU) and talked to patients and their parents (some young patients were unaware or unable to speak),” says Shawna.

About 25 young patients gathered in the hospital recreation room to enjoy building their own bears. Surrounded with their Build-a-Bear supplies, they were able to put their personal touches on their newest friend.

Carrying a sign that read, “You are our Super Heroes!” SJVC students gave teddy bears to at least 200 patients that day, who ranged in age from a few weeks to 16 years old.

“We really promote student involvement in the community,” says Brian Ruff. But, sometimes those volunteers come away with something as valuable as they contribute. “Something like this helps to remind them in the future to treat everybody with compassion and greater care.”

“A young patient asked if she could hug me and she thanked me for helping her get through this time,” says Shawna. “I don’t think I realized exactly how much it would impact me.”

Sometimes you are the recipient of something greater than you give.