Local Cops Deliver 50,000 Teddy Bears

Police officers from around the county made a special delivery to Rady Children's hospital Tuesday - 50,000 teddy bears.

For the 20th year in a row, officers turned on their sirens and made the delivery to sick children waiting patiently outside the hospital.

"It means it's going to be a Merry Christmas," said eight-year-old Ryan, a patient at the hospital. Ryan has been there for over two weeks, while recovering from surgery. He called his bear, "pretty cool."

The drive was started 20 years ago, when Coronado police officer Brian Hardy brought 12 new teddy bears to children spending the Christmas holiday in the hospital.

"I was walking out of the hospital and saw a donation bin just a few days before Christmas and the bin was pretty well empty -- a few toys in it," Hardy said. "The nurse told me their donations were way down that year. So with that in mind, I was down at Montgomery Ward and they had a half-price on teddy bears sale, I had an epiphany."

When he first started the drive, he delivered the 12 bears to children by himself in his lone police car, now his fellow officers have joined in.

"Over the years, [it was] a few cops in here and there and before long, you see every agency in San Diego County and beyond has joined us," Hardy said. "We are ecstatic that we can make this happen."

The hospital uses the bears to give children comfort during their stay at the hospital.

"It's really meaningful for the children here to receive a stuffed animal," said Rady Children’s Hospital's Carol Damon-Scherer. "Some of the children come to us in a state of crisis, they have been injured, perhaps in car accident or something. They aren't with their parents.  We're able to give them a stuffed animal to provide comfort."

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