Luke Lawrence and Jan Reap looked shocked when they found out how much money Saskatoon Health Region’s registration and admitting employees raised for Lawrence’s charity, Teddy Bears Anonymous. “Nine-thousand, five hundred and forty seven dollars,” announced Joe Bichel to the amazed Lawrence and Reap, marketing volunteer for the organization. “But there’s about $500 more that has to be counted.” The total was not only a surprise to the charity, but also to the registration staff who fundraised in a series of silent auctions and 50/50 draws and gathered donations.

(left to right) Luke Lawrence, founder of Teddy Bears Anonymous, Jan Reap, marketing volunteer for TBA, April Brown, site manager for registration at Royal University Hospital and Joe Bichel, regional manager of registration services at the announcement of the total raised.

(left to right) Luke Lawrence, founder of Teddy Bears Anonymous, Jan Reap, marketing volunteer for TBA, April Brown, site manager for registration at Royal University Hospital and Joe Bichel, regional manager of registration services at the announcement of the total raised.

“We thought maybe we would raise two or three thousand dollars,” says Bichel, the regional manager of registration. “This is very surprising for us. The staff in the three hospitals, the patients who have come to donate money have been just fantastic.”

Teddy Bears Anonymous provides teddy bears for children who find themselves in hospital for whatever reason. It was started by Lawrence after the death of his 20-year-old daughter Erin. She had received so many teddy bears in hospital that the family couldn’t keep them all and wanted to donate them back to hospitals and ambulance services. They found they couldn’t donate “used” stuffed animals, so Lawrence decided to fundraise to purchase new ones for all kids.

Vera Wiebe, manager of registration at Saskatoon City Hospital poses with one of the giant stuffed animals that were up for raffle in the fundraising.

Vera Wiebe, manager of registration at Saskatoon City Hospital poses with one of the giant stuffed animals that were up for raffle in the fundraising.

The charity is also an opportunity for Lawrence to raise awareness of the rare disease Erin died of – hereditary diffuse gastric cancer. “It’s such a rare disease, many doctors don’t know about it, there’s no treatment for it,” says Lawrence. “My wife, Erin’s mother predeceased her when Erin was a baby. We didn’t know she had it. Then 18 years later Erin developed the same illness. Now, they can identify the gene for this type of cancer.” There is no treatment for the cancer, but if the gene is detected early, as it was in Lawrence’s son Jared, the stomach can be removed to avoid the risk of developing the cancer.

“We decided to fundraise for Teddy Bears Anonymous because we see the smiles on children’s faces when we give them a teddy bear when they come in for any day surgery, emergency or inpatient visit,” adds Bichel.

Registration staff celebrate their fundraising efforts.

Registration staff celebrate their fundraising efforts.

“I got to give a teddy bear to a little boy when I was helping out in the registration department one day. He was just crying. He didn’t want to be here. I brought out three teddy bears for him to choose from and he just instantly stopped crying and a big smile came on his face. For five minutes he could feel like a child.”