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"Bear"ing Love with Cancer

This year's Daffodil Days fundraiser at NCCC made one little cancer patient very, very happy.

Few things can rival the joy on children's faces when they hug a big teddy bear. The love is simple and pure and happy, as it should be—as love should always be.

Focus article photo

Shar N Care the Bear goes home with 2-year-old Keyara.

Cancer Center staff members and clinicians, along with representatives from the American Cancer Society (ACS), got a good look at just such love the other day when a two-year-old leukemia patient named Keyara, who goes by the nickname "Bobbles," was presented with a four-foot-tall teddy bear named "Shar N Care" at the Cancer Center. Doctors, nurses, secretaries—and everyone else around—all melted when Bobbles met her new companion, which outsized her by about three to one.

"An amazing effort"

The presentation was the result of the Daffodil Days fundraising program at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center (DHMC) earlier this year. The program sells daffodil bouquets, live plants, and plants with small teddy bears for a week in the spring, and all proceeds go to the ACS to support cancer research and patient services.

In four days, Daffodil Days sales at DHMC totaled $8,097, all of which went to ACS. DHMC, in fact, raised the most of any medical center in New Hampshire, according to Jennifer King, a senior secretary in Patient and Family Support Services at Norris Cotton Cancer Center (NCCC) who has managed the Daffodil Days program at DHMC for the past three years. "We had three tables, all staffed by volunteers from Lake Sunapee Bank, Hypotherm, and staff at DHMC and the Cancer Center," she says. "It was an amazing effort this year."

A special kind of Boyds Bear

In addition to the nearly $8,100 raised for ACS, Daffodil Days produced 140 little teddy bears, which were distributed to young patients at Children's Hospital at Dartmouth-Hitchcock (CHaD). The big bear was a gift from ACS to NCCC for raising the most funds in this year's program, and it was up to NCCC to choose a child to give the bear to.

This is no ordinary four-foot teddy bear, either. Made by Boyds Bears in Maryland, Shar N Care is an extremely limited edition bear; an embroidered daffodil on the bottom of one foot identifies Shar N Care as a special Daffodil Days bear. Once a year's fundraising is over, Boyds retires that year's bear from production. The rare Daffodil Days bears become valuable collector's items.

But none of that mattered to little Bobbles, who gazed at her bear with wide-eyed wonder. When she climbed into a red wagon with Shar N Care, there was "bearly" any room left for the smallest doll. Shar N Care will surely be a close friend for Bobbles throughout her care at NCCC.

"I look forward to this every year," says King. "Daffodil Days is a wonderful way for us to give back to the ACS, who give us so much each year. I love working with the volunteers and being part of their enthusiasm and excitement. It's really a nice feeling to do something like this and then see the children's reaction."

August 06, 2012