We’re featuring Champ (not to be confused with Champerina), the famous Build-A-Bear Workshop bear who was created specifically to highlight children’s health and wellness for the Build-A-Bear Workshop Bear Hugs Foundation. Champ was born from the inspiration of a family’s love for a daughter and the daughter’s idea to fund research. Read about Nikki, who lost her battle with cancer but whose legacy lives on in Champ. A dollar from every Champ bear sold goes directly to help fund grants to children’s related approved grant applicants.
Why is that important to know?
We’re sending Champ on an Around the World Adventure to visit children and families who are touched by special needs, not unlike Nikki’s family. Champ gets to visit other countries, hang out with a family for a bit, comfort and befriend and be on his way for a new adventure! The first stop in Champ’s Around the World Adventure sent him to Canada to visit the Sears family.
Dana and Nick have three handsome sons and another boy on the way. Any family with 3 boys is busy and the Sears family is no exception. Joshua is six and has severe, impulsive ADHD, Mason, age 4, was diagnosed with Smith-Magenis syndrome. Mason also has a diagnosis of Autism and severe ADHD and has a problem with swallowing (he aspirates) and his digestive system doesn’t work quite right so Mason is g-tube fed (he has a tube that goes right into his belly for nutrients). He even wears a backpack most of the day to carry the nutrients that go into his body to help him grow. Their youngest, little Carter, doesn’t see his brothers’ challenges; he just knows he loves them!
Their lives are filled with a lot of doctor and therapy appointments. There’s also a lot of love, snuggling and playing. Their daily challenges change, and often, as is the case with most special needs families. Because of this, Dana and Nick have to remain flexible (and patient, persistent and resilient) and have a collective sense of humor. They’ll have you know that not all Canadians live in Igloos and have dog sleds. To them (and a lot of other Canadians) hockey is a pretty important part of life!
Champ went with the kids to doctor appointments, therapy and McDonald’s, where Mason likes to eat a little something. Champ spent hours on the couch with Carter when he was sick and stayed with Josh when he needed some quiet time playing on Mason’s iPad. Champ has become a friend to all of the boys. Mom Dana jokes that he was their happy puppy that isn’t annoying!
They are already big fans of Build-A-Bear Workshop, where they have a family tradition for every birthday when the birthday boy gets to pick out a new friend. They already have several furry friends, so Champ fit right in with their family for his visit! They had to say goodbye to Champ and were sad to do so, but were happy knowing he was going on another adventure to another country 4600 miles away. You’ll never guess where!
Be on the lookout for the next update on Champ’s Around the World Adventure to visit families with children with special needs. He’s bringing more than smiles; he’s offering comfort, friendship and building beary special memories!