A special visitor awaited Teaghan McIntyre when she got home from school Sept. 4.
Chris Bearowitz, a stuffed “peanut butter cup” bear that is part of the Travelling Bear Awareness program, arrived at the McIntyre home in Whitefish the very same day Teaghan turned 11.
The timing couldn’t have been better, said Teaghan’s mom, Tracy McIntyre.
“It was a neat coincidence that he arrived on the same day as Teaghan’s birthday,” she said.
Teaghan has a congenital heart defect and had open heart surgery when she was two years old. Her health condition continues to be monitored today.
The Travelling Bear Awareness program matches bears with the same conditions or syndromes as the children they visit. Teaghan’s brother, Andrew, also received a visit from a bear in December 2012. Evan Bearowitz has epilepsy, as does Andrew.
Like Evan, Chris Bearowitz was sent to the McIntyre home with all of the equipment required for the proper treatment of his condition — a mini oxygen tank and mask, as well as a mini stethoscope.
“The purpose of the Travelling Bear program is to make kids who have syndromes feel like they’re not alone,” said Teaghan.
Because Chris is visiting during school, Teaghan has not had much time to spend with him, but she plans to bring him to school for an upcoming Jump Rope for Heart kickoff “as a mascot.”
Typically, travelling awareness bears only stay one week with a child, but because Chris does not have another child waiting, Teaghan can spend a little more time with him.
While she is at school, Teaghan said Chris spends his time in her room, guarding her pet frogs. A picture of Chris as frog guardian will be added to a journal that travels with him so his next host family can see what the bear has been up to.
When Chris departs Whitefish, his passport will be “stamped” by Teaghan and the McIntyre family will send him to his next destination.
Teaghan said she will be sad to see Chris go, but happy that another child will get to see him and read the journal.
For more information about this program visit www.travelingawarenessbears.org.
Shannon O'Connor is a freelance writer in Greater Sudbury.