Cook Children's Medical Center partnered with the Inter-Faith Prayer Ministry 21 years ago to let young patients know they are loved by the community.
Churches, businesses and individuals donate new, stuffed bears. The patients get a book on the Legend of Prayer Bear. And if parents choose, their child's name is added to a prayer list.
When 4-year-old Zoey Garcia was given her Prayer Bear, you could hear her high-pitched cry of joy in the hospital hallway. She gave her bear her biggest bear hug.
Patti Roemmich is one of The Bear Ladies. She ties a colorful ribbon into a bow around the neck of hundreds of prayer bears each week. She's done this for 8 years and loves it.
Other volunteers deliver the bears to patients. Babies and toddlers get small bears. Older kids and teens get giant-sized bears.
Last year, 15,000 Prayer Bears were given to patients and their siblings. So far this year, 10,000 bears have been given new loving homes.
If you'd like to donate new bears or ribbons for the bows or more volunteer information, CCMC at (682) 885-7218.