HOUSTON (FOX 26) - The Super Bowl may be eight months out, but plans are well underway for it to be held in Houston, and children are already benefiting from it here. We got to team-up with the Houston Super Bowl Host Committee to help spread cheer to little ones at Children's Memorial Hermann Hospital. Being hospitalized can be traumatic for children, but a little fuzzy friend and friendly visit can make a big difference.
"These bears were given to us by our colleagues at the Super Bowl 50 Host Committee, the San Francisco Bay area host committee, and this is our way of giving back to the community so we've got over a thousand that were given to us by that group and we're looking forward to being able to contribute them to an organization here in Houston," says Hasting Stewart, who is the Executive Vice President of Public Affairs with the Houston Super Bowl Host Committee.
The goldie bears represent the Super Bowl in "bear form" and appear to be a great distraction for children.
"It's extremely important for kids to have the opportunity to do things other than to think about and focus on their medical issues and the potential tests that may be coming, as well as those that they have experienced, so any time we get special visitors in the hospital, it's really a treat for them," says Richard Weir, who is the Director of Child Life & Expressive Therapies at Children's Memorial Hermann Hospital.
"One of the things the Host Committee here in Houston is really focused on is giving back to the community. We want to do things that are going to live well beyond the Super Bowl. This is just a small way for us to do that," says Stewart.
Operation Goldie Bear is a huge success! We were greeted with smiles in every room we visited.
"We have found that down in our day-surgery area, in our outpatient imaging area, when kids have something to hold on to go into some of these tests they're a little less frightened. It's somebody that they can hold on to that can give them a little bit of comfort -- and the softer it is, the better it is. Sometimes the bigger it is, can be better as well. So these bears are the right size, right softness, and I think there will be an added plus for many of the kids, who are experiencing some of the things that we need to do to help them get better," says Weir.
"I hope they're very surprised, and again, our ability, in a small way, to put a smile on some faces certainly gives us a great deal of pride," says Stewart.
Everyone we met was surprised. Now they have another positive memory from their hospital stay, plus a reminder the Super Bowl is coming to town, and a new friend to hug them back, when they need it most.