The Traveling Awareness Bears started with two very special bears, Pat and Patricia. Pat and Patricia are Pediatric Stroke Awareness Bears that have been traveling the world spreading awareness and providing love, encouragement and a better sense of belonging to children all over the world.
When my son, Elijah was 20 months old, he was diagnosed with a stroke in utero. Later he would also be diagnosed with right hemiplegic cerebral palsy from the stroke, Asperger’s Syndrome, Bipolar Disorder and ADHD. As Elijah grew older, he became more aware of the lack of awareness. He would see so many pink awareness ribbons and sometimes some other colors too but, never purple for pediatric stroke. He began telling people that they needed purple ribbons for pediatric stroke. He even told a baker once at the bakery next to his rehab that he needed to make purple awareness ribbon cookies when he spotted some pink ones in the glass case. The following week, the baker had 6 purple awareness ribbon cookies waiting for him.
My amazing little boy at the wonderful age of 7 is wanting to spread awareness. Elijah wanted to send his teddy bear out to visit other kids like him. We quickly ran up to his room to get one of his teddy bears. Now, Elijah is 7 and LOVES his stuffies as he refers to his stuffed animals. So of course I needed a bear that meant nothing to him. We picked one out that he had since he was a baby and never once played with. We named him Pat Bearowitz. We made him a t-shirt with the help of his Grandma that said “Pediatric Stroke Awareness” and had an awreness ribbon. We sewed an awareness bracelet to his wrist. We made up a story about him based on Elijah’s story and posted it to facebook along with a photograph of Elijah and Pat. Through this whole process, Elijah became increasingly attached to Pat. So much for using a bear he didn’t have any attachment to! We thought, maybe 20 or 25 people would want a visit…..
The response was overwhelming! Not only did we get the expected 20-25, but we got MORE! We had about 40+ responses. We quickly got Pat a journal and a passport made and sent him on his way to his first stop in Conneticut. As we boxed Pat up, Elijah said to me, “Mom, I am really going to miss Pat. But I know he needs to go and visit other children like me.” His t-shirt was poorly made, so the mom at his first stop made him a new one from her cafe press store online. It reads “I’m Pat, I survived a stroke!” (Thanks Annette!!) We then went to an orthotic appointment for Elijah and told the orthotist about Pat and his journey. The orthotist loved the idea so much that he donated an AFO to us. We sent it on to the second family where Pat was already headed so that they could put it on Pat’s leg for us.
We kept blog posts for Pat’s adventures. My brother, Matt, set up a blog for us. Each blog post brought in more people wishing to get a visit from the now famous Pat Bearowitz. We even started getting requests from other countries. It was then that we decided we needed a second bear. Patricia was born. Patricia is Pat’s little sister. We got her all set up and ready and she is soon heading out to England.
One day, my brother said to me, You should really make Pat a not for profit. I hadn’t really thought of it before but hey, it sounded like an awsome idea. I began brainstorming with Annette and we were shooting out so many ideas on what we could do with it. Finally, we decided…Pat and Patricia are such a huge hit at a whopping 88 families signed up now that we should start MORE BEARS!!! We chose Autism, Congenital Heart Defect and Rare Chromosome Disorders for the first three. We are taking suggestions on other disorders, diseases, syndromes, disabilities etc. Our goal is to eventually have bears for all sorts of these things that affect our children.
And thus, The Traveling Awareness Bears was born!
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